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V. 1 




H novel 



Author of 

"Killed in the Open," "The Girl in the Brown Habit, 
" A Real aooD Thing,"' etc., etc. 


YOL. I. 

F. V. WHITE & CO., 










I. — A Very Select Hunt .... 1 

II. jS'eCK or ISTOTHING . . . . 15 

III. — The Mutual Adorationites Sustain an 

Irreparable Loss . . . .31 

IV. — Lord Littelbrane Feels Lonely . 45 

y. — A Stranger in the Land ... 67 

VI. — Oppressed by so much Grandeur . 83 

VIL— "[N'ot Half a Bad Sort of Gent" . 94 

VIII. — Longing for a Ride .... 107 

"\ IX. — "Welcoming the Stranger . . .129 

"^ X. — Cutting Them all Down . . . 145 

(X XI. — General Prosieboy Comes to the Front 161 

XII. — A Charming Woman . . . . 180 

^ XIII. — Love by Selection 194 

^ XIV.— He Won't Face Water . . . 218 

XV. — The Pleasures of Hunting . . . 235 

pOfUb/cF^ JMEW J^OVEbS. 

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F. V. WHITE & Co., 
31, Southampton Street, Strand, London, W.O. 




The real name of the Hunt was the Morbey 

But in sporting circles it was always 
called " The Mutual Adoration." In fact, 
so generally was this latter appellation 
employed that most people were apt to 
forget it possessed any other. 

As the " Mutual Adoration " they were 
known far and wide, but altliough there 
was not a finer country in Great Britain 
than that which they had the good fortune 
to hunt, the pack was not popular with 
strangers. Year after year the same faces 
VOL. I. 1 


might be seen at covert side ; very few new 
ones ever appeared amongst them. 

Eich young men with large studs, plenty 
of money and a desire to get rid of it, such 
as are invariably welcome in most country 
places ; ofllcers spending their long leave ; 
fathers of families, hampered by the care 
of so many young ones, but as keen about 
hunting as ever, did not choose Morbey 
Anstead as their head-quarters. 

This was the more remarkable, because 
the town itself offered many advantages. 
It was clean, healthy, well situated on the 
top of a breezy hill, and moreover abund- 
antly stocked with good inns and excellent 
stabling. But alas ! both inns and stables 
stood empty. 

And yet people who had been to Morbey 
Anstead once, never complained -of it as a 
bad place from which to enjoy the chase. 
On the contrary, they praised it highly ; 
but what they did complain of very loudly 


and very bitterly, were the manners of tlie 
" Mutual Adoration " Hunt. As strangers 
tliey went amongst that fastidious crew 
and as strangers they came away, feeling 
that if they hunted from Morbey Anstead 
all their days, such they would remain. 
For after ridincj behind these exclusives 
the whole season, you were but too apt to 
find your existence overlooked just as much 
at the end of it as at the beginning. 

Now there is no denying the fact that 
folks don't Uke this sort of thing ; and 
various were the remarks made ; often not 
altogether of a laudatory description. It 
may be vanity, but it is also human nature 
to desire some recognition from your fellow- 

" Upon my soul, we might just as well 
be so much dirt," quoth one incensed 

" Dirt ! say pitch," answered his com- 
panion. " For they do condescend to make 

1 * 


tlie acquaintance of Mother Earth now and 


" Ha, lia ! very good, ver}- good," said a 
third. " The worst of it is, though, after a 
bit a fellow be<]fins to wonder what the 
deuce is the matter with him, when he iroes 
out hunting and not a soul will say a word, 
or recognize his presence. He fancies 
that the fault must lie with himself, 
and that ain't bv any means a pleasant 

" True," put in a fourth. " But when 
you liaye seen a little more of the M. A.'s, 
then 3"ou turn round and enquire what the 
deyil is the matter with them ? " 

" They are so confounded exclusiye ! " 
sighed the son of a s^rocer, who had taken 
to liuntinix, thinkinnr he would <]:et eleyated 
into County society. 

" My dear fellow," said the first speaker, 
contemptuously, " the whole thing lies in a 
nut -shell, and I for one say that the Mutual 


Adorationites are more to be pitied than 
blamed. They have only one idea in their 
heads, and that's hunting. They can think 
of nothing else, talk of nothing else. Their 
brains get brutalized, and their manners 
suffer in consequence. My own belief is 
that this rudeness and reticence proceeds 
from a very simple cause. They are not 
wise enough to know any better ; " and so 
on, and on ad mjinitum^ for the malcontents 
were verv numerous. 

This remark happened to get round to 
the ears of those for whom it was not 
intended. Such remarks always do. They 
travel with marvellous rapidity, and 
generally land in the precise quarter where 
they are calculated to do the largest 
amount of mischief. 

The indignation of the Mutual Adora- 
tionites was quite comical. 

Not know any better indeed ! They 
flattered themselves they knew a very great 


deal better than to take up with every 
Tom, Dick and Harr}^ who put on a red 
coat and chose to appear outside a horse. 

They liked to know who people were, 
where they came from, how far their 
ancestors could be traced, and in what 
sort of society they moved, before jumping 
down their throats, and even then there 
was no hurry. It was always better to 
take plenty of time to consider about these 
thin<2^s, for fear of making' a mistake. It 
would never answer for them — the Mutual 
Adorationites — to incorporate a person 
into their select bodv, and then fmd that 
that person would not do ! There had 
been such a case on record, and every 
M. A. to a man was agreed it must never 
happen again. And to do them justice, 
this was their hrst and last error of 
familiarity. Under the circumstances, it 
will not perhaps be difficult to understand 
how it came about that the Hunt was a 


small one. It was still further reduced by 
being divided and split up into sections. 

First came the "riff-raff" — the kind of 
folks whom the M. A.'s saw year after 
year, and ignored entirely. They might 
be very good fellows in their way, but, to 
use their own expressive language, " they 
did not tumble to them." 

Fortunately for these gentlemen — who 
constituted the larger portion of the field — 
they were able to form a society of their 
own, which enabled them to survive the 
frigidity of their fellow Nimrods. 

Then came the " Half-and-halfers " — 
people whom the Mutual Adorationites, 
for various reasons, did not wholly con- 
demn, even while they they could not 
altogether accept. 

These were tolerated, passively and in a 
luke-warm fashion, which proved more 
ffallinc^ to some than direct avoidance. 

On the recurrence of eacli huntinof 


season, and after an absence probably of 
several months, they would find themselves 
greeted by a careless nod and a muttered 
" How do." Or if the M. A. happened to 
be in an unusually amiable and loquacious 
mood, he might even go the length of 
saying, " Fine day. Looks like a scenting 

But this was quite an oratorical effort, 
and generally meant, " There ! I've done 
the civil to you, because you are a covert 
owner, but for goodness sake don't expect 
me to go talking to you any more to-day." 

As a matter of fact, no real M. A. would 
ever unbend so far as to be seen carrying 
on a conversation with a " Ilalf-and- 
halfer." They kept their conversations 
and their ideas for themselves. They were 
too precious, or perhaps too scarce to be 
showered upon the world of " outsiders." 
An3'how, they were not scattered like 
pearls before swine. 


The hond-fide Mutual Adorationites did 
not number more tlian a dozen. 

When they went a-hunting they formed 
a coterie apart. 

They rode together, talked or rather 
kept silence together, and jogged home 

All the rest of the field were made to 
feel themselves without the pale. 

But the M. A.'s, for all tlieir exclusive- 
ness, were not jovial. There was none of 
that friendly, harmless, good-natured 
chatter going on amongst them which is 
one of the characteristic features of most 
covert sides, and often is carried to too 
great an excess. 

Occasionally one of their number would 
jerk out an observation, and his companion 
would grunt out a reply. But there was 
no mirth, or jollity ; no fun and geniality. 

They were stately, and solemn, and dull 
to a degree. As for a joke — but there I 


tliey never condescended to anything half 
so vulgar or so abominably plebeian. A 
joke would have besn considered bad form. 

The mere fact of ridinji about in each 
other's company seemed to afford a kind of 
sedate pleasure. Any interchange of 
thought was quit^ superlluous. 

Unfortunately, their very exclusiveness 
rendered them few in numbers. 

Death and absence had thinned their 
ranks to such an extent that at the period 
when our story commences, there were not 
more than a dozen leg;itimate Mutual 
Adorationites left. Still, thev sufficed to 
maintain the character of the Hunt, and 
effectually drove away any rash stranger, 
who, tempted by the beauty of the country, 
and the convenience of Morbey Anstead as 
a sporting centre, took it into his head to 
come out with the hounds. 

First and foremost ranked the master, 
Lord Littelbrane. 


He was a small, fair, colourless, insig- 
nificant-looking man, about forty-five 
years of age, with a drab complexion^ 
and hair to match. He wore an eye- 
glass, which stood him in good stead, 
since the number of persons he contrived 
not to see at one of his meets was truly 
remarkable. He also was distinguished 
by a stony stare very disconcerting to its 
object. His eyes always seemed to look 
just a little above his neighbour's head, 
making that individual feel there must be 
something wrong or queer about his hat. 

Another famous M. A. was old General 
Prosieboy, or The Squasher, as he was 
lovingly called by his intimates. He was 
a most useful personage, and had derived 
his sobriquet from the fact that he could 
annihilate an objectionable stranger better 
than any other single M. A. in existence. 
His method was very simple. He dis- 
charged a volley of oaths at the offender, 


and as these were by no means choice, 
generally forcible, and nearly always un- 
provoked, nine times out of ten the 
audacious enemy who had dared to address 
an M. A. without waiting to be first 
spoken to by him, retired in dismay, and 
never repeated the hazardous experiment. 

Once, and once only, it was said that 
The Squasher met his match. The gentle- 
man was fresh from California, and displayed 
a fluency, a facility and an originality of 
language, which fairly discomfited his 
opponent, whose vocabulary was limited 
in comparison. 

Taking him all in all. Captain Straightem 
might fairly be reckoned the flower of the 
Mutual Adorationites. He was the best 
dressed, the coolest, the most silent, and 
least gregarious of the party. He had 
never been known to laugh, and seldom 
seen to smile. His brethen were loud in 
his praise. Of the whole dozen good fellows 


who formed their ranks, he (always except- 
ing themselves) was voted the best. As a 
specimen of the right sort, he shone pre- 

He kept himself aloof, and never by any 
chance fraternized with the vulgar herd. 
As the owner of a large estate in the county, 
he was a man of considerable position, 
and looked up to accordingly, both by 
those who had, and by those who had not, 
the honour of his acquaintance. 

And even his enemies respected him for 
the brilliant way in which he rode to 
hounds. They admitted that he had some 
excuse for his extremely good opinion of 
himself, but the other M. A.'s they declared 
had none. 

Still there was no doubt that the Mutual 
Adorationites were on remarkably friendly 
terms with No One. It must have been 
the case, since nearly everybody else was 
dubbed " a creature, a brute, or an out- 


sider." Nobody ^Yas good enough for 
them — at least, nobody under a baron. 
Yet the singular part of the whole business 
was this. If any one had told them that 
their Hunt was not popular, and that they 
were the sole cause of its unpopularity, 
they would have received the statement 
with a burst of incredulous indignation. 
The truth was, they had not the faculty of 
seeing things from any point of view but 
their own. Hence the limitedness of their 



It would have cleeii difficult to conceive of 
a more melancholy day for the opening 
meet of the season than was Tuesday, the 
first of November, 188-. 

When Captain Straightem's servant called 
his master about half-past eight o'clock, 
that gentleman turned in bed like a lazy 
porpoise rolling on the top of the water, 
yawned and murmured in a voice muffled 
by blankets : " What sort of a day is it, 
Dickinson ? " 

''A tremendously thick fog, sir," came 
the prompt reply, uttered in tones of un- 
sympathetic cheerfulness. " You can't see 
twenty j^ards a'ead of you." 


" The devil ! " exclaimed Captain 
Straiglitem, wakening into sudden life, 
and springing out of bed, so as to 
ascertain for liimself the exact state of 
the weather. 

But to his disGfust, on lookinir out of the 
window, he perceived at a glance that for 
once Dickinson had not exa^^^i^erated 

A dense fog lay over all the land, 
enshrouding both hills and valle3's in its 
weird and ghostly embrace. It rested like 
a soft, grey sheet upon the fields, toning 
down to a sombre tint the bricfht cfreen 
f];Tass. As for the laurel hedires c^rowinc: 

c GOD 

on either side of the drive, tliev were 
impregnated with moisture, and great wet 
drops rested on their glossy leaves. 

Everything was dark, everything was 
dull, everything was damp. 

He looked up at the sky, but could 
detect no break or Meam of lioht. 


The prospects of the chase did not appear 
promising. Captain Straighten! stifled an 
oath as he applied the razor to his clean- 
shaven face. 

" Confounded bad luck ! Still it may 
clear by-and-bye," he muttered, half-an- 
hour later on, when he sat down to his 
solitary breakfast in the big oak dining- 
room. And at any rate it won't do not to 
go to the meet." 

But as the fog showed no signs of giving, 
he drew an armchair to the fire, toasted his 
toes, and read the newspaper, waiting and 
hoping that the weather would improve. 
It was late before he started, and even then, 
instead of galloping to covert as was his 
wont, he allowed his smart little hog-maned 
hack to proceed at a comparatively leisurely 

Consequently by the time he reached the 
place of meeting, the majority of the field 
had already assembled ; but although it 
VOL. I. 2 


was now long past the advertised hour, 
Lord Littelbrane had not attempted to 
raake a move. 

As a matter of fact, it would not have 
been easy to hunt, since objects at a distance 
of onl}^ a few yards were almost undis- 
tinguishable. To ride to hounds if they 
ran fast — which tlie}^ so frequently do on 
tliese mild damp days, when the heavy 
state of the atmosphere seems to prevent 
fscent from rising and dispersing — would 
tax the powers of the keenest and most 
darinoE" fox-hunter in existence. 

"Deuced bore this d — d fo£T," growled 
his lordship, as soon as Captain Straightem 
joined the small and select circle which 
invariably gathered round him at the meet, 
as if to protect his noble person from any 
possible onslaught of the vulgar herd. 
"Deuced bore." 

"Deuced," echoed Captain Straightem, 
laconically but sympathetically. 


(( '' 

Ton my soul, I liardly know wliat to 
do. Whether to take the hounds home or 
not. All these ' Arries,' " lookino^ round 
contemptuously, " will feel terribly ag- 
grieved if we don't show them some sort 
of sport on the first day of the season." 

"Never mind them," put in General 
Prosieboy. '• It's ourselves we've got to 
think of. Ourselves first, our horses second, 
our hounds third." 

" What do you say to it, Straightem ? " 
asked Lord Littelbrane. For, as before 
explained, Captain Straightem was a fea- 
ture of the Huntj and his opinion went 
for a great deal. 

" Well, if I were you, I should wait a 
bit longer before giving up. Folks don't 
like to be disappointed on these kind of 
occasions, and it's just on the cards that 
the weather may clear." 

And sure enough it did, though at no 
time in a satisfactory manner. 


Eut at twelve o'clock the sun struf^^f^led 
SO gallantly with the fog, that for a few 
minutes he actually forced it to disperse 
before his pale radiance. 

Loud were the conc^ratulations, and 
universal the satisfaction, when Lord 
Littelbrane, without losing a moment, 
gave orders for the proceedings of the day 
to commence, and hounds were at once 
trotted off at a brisk pace, to draw a 
covert close by. 

Half-an-hour elapsed, and sadness and 
despondency once more fell upon the spirits 
of the field ; for the improvement in the 
weather proved only temporary, and the 
heavy mist seemed to roll down worse than 
ever. Phoebus turned white and sicklv 
like an ailinsf child, then sullenlv hid his 

" If this o'oes on we shall have to 2:ive 
it up, whether we like it or not," said Lord 
Littelbrane gloomily. 


The words were scarcely out of his 
mouth before a loud '' gane forrard 
aw-a-ay " proclaimed that Eeynard had 
left the snug undergrowth of the covert. 
There was evidently a hot scent in the 
open, for the hounds dashed out after 
him, close at his brush, and almost directly 
were lost to vision, engulphed, as it were, 
by the enveloping fog. 

They threw their tongues merrily, and 
could be heard, though not seen. 

And now began a curious chase ; for 
every man had to ride by ear instead of 
by eye, and he who was deaf stood but a 
sorry chance. 

Foxes are famed for their subtilty ; and 
this one, as if on purpose to baffle his 
pursuers, chose about as rough and awk- 
ward a route as he could have selected in 
the whole country. 

Fences loomed dark and formidable, 
their dimensions increased instead of 


diminished by the imperfect light. It was 
simply impossible to tell what they were 
like, until you were close upon them. 

Horses snilTed the damp air through 
their open nostrils, and discharged it 
with disgust. They looked round sus- 
piciously at this grey and unrecognisable 
world, were nervous and timid, and dis- 
trusted the commonest object. A log of 
wood, a cow, a stone, filled them with 
apprehension. And all this time, borne on 
the vaporous atmosphere, rang out the 
eager, murderous notes of hounds cele- 
brated for their slaying qualities. 

They were positively racing ahead. 

But alack ! alack ! How to keep up 
with them ? The task seemed well nio-h 
impossible, and each man realized to his 
bitter cost that there are some days in 
every season when hunting is attended 
with more pain than pleasure. Days when 
hounds, fences, elements defy you simul- 


taneously. Five minutes sufficed to place 
the field in disorder. Their ranks opened 
and spread in every direction • and dire 
was the confusion that resulted. 

Only Burnett (the huntsman), Captain 
Straightem, and a couple of hard -riding 
farmers succeeded in getting well away. 
Their nerve and promptitude served them 
in good stead ; but they had to ride as 
they had never ridden in their lives before. 
It was a case of neck or nothing. 

Friendly gates could not be taken 
advantage of, as usual ; for to-day the 
Pack would have vanished from view in 
the time that they took to open. The 
only chance of keeping with hounds 
was to keep close to their heels and nego- 
tiate every possible and impossible fence 
that came in the way. Providence must 
provide for the rest. 

Crash, crash go the timbers of a 
stilT double oxer, as the gallant quartette 


fly it, each man charging a diflerent 

One of the farmers is down — no, his 
horse recovers himself. He staGfi^ers for a 
pace or two, then gallops on as before, 
fearful of losing his companions. 

Suddenly is heard a shrill whistle. 

It is the first intimation given to the 
pursuers that they are close to a railway. 

" By God ! " exclaims Burnett, in agi- 
tated tones ; " the hounds will be cut to 
pieces." For he knows b}^ the sound that 
they are just ahead. 

He calls them by name ; first in com- 
manding, then in entreating, fnially in 
frantic lan^uac^e. Never has his horn 
iriven forth such loud and urcfent blasts. 

But their blood is up, and they heed him 

In another second an express train 
dashes into their midst, and two of the 
best bitches in the whole Pack will never 


go a-hunting again, or stretch their fleet 
limbs over the broad pastures. Burnett is 
in despair. 

He wrings his hands like a woman, and 
as he dismounts hastily and^bends over the 
mans^led carcases of his dead darlinf^s — 
those hounds that were his pride and his 
delight — the tears gather in his eyes, whilst 
his honest, weather-beaten face twitches 
with sorrow. 

" Darn this fog," he exclaims resentfully. 
" It ain't fit to hunt in." 

But the companions of poor Milkmaid 
and Merrylass evidently hold a different 
opinion. With deadly zest and joj^ous 
music they fling forward after their fox, 
every murderous instinct awakened and 
desiring gratification. 

A solitary horseman is with them now, 
and follows their bold career. Burnett has 
stayed with his hounds, the fog has 
swallowed up the two farmers, who, until 


tliis point, Lave maintained their own right 


On the face of him who smiles so 

rarely a solemn smile has settled. To 

have bested the field is the one delic^ht 

of his life. He can conceive of no hiizher 



Swish ! And he tears through a great, 
black ballfinch, and is almost drasf^^ed from 

' CO 

his saddle. Slap! And the bough of an 
overhanging tree catches him one on the 

His countenance bri^iitens still more, 

O 7 

though the blood is spurting from his lip. 
His pulses quicken and his eye dilates, for 
the dano-ers and the difficulties of this 


particular chase lend it a special charm. 
When he thinks it all over in his armchair 
after a good dinner, he will feel excusably 
triumphant and elated in proportion to the 
obstacles overcome. 

But what is this black thin^r loomins: 


through the fog? Oh, for a ray of 
sunshme ! 

It might be a fence, it might be a 
house, it might be anything, for all he 
can tell. 

The pulsations of his heart grow loud. 
He can hear them beatino- ao-ainst his ribs. 
But the hounds have already disappeared 
behind the mysterious barrier, and where 
they go he is determined to follow. 
Whatever this man's faults may be, he is 
brave and knows no fear. 

Besides, he has beneath him one of the 
most perfect and resolute hunters that ever 
looked through a bridle. A hunter who 
has carried him four seasons, and hardly 
put a foot wrong. 

Captain Straightem leans forward in the 
saddle, pats his good horse's neck and 
speaks an encouraging word to him. 
Then he steadies him a trifle, and just 
when he is about to take off gives him his 


head. The animal knows his business, and 
is as courageous as a lion. 

He springs from his hind legs, and 
oh ! ! ! 

Ten minutes afterwards, when Burnett, 
Lord Littelbrane, and some half-dozen 
others, riding in search of the hounds, 
came to the fence in question they pru- 
dently avoided it ; and went through a 
bridle-gate which they had the good for- 
tune to espy, congratulating themselves on 
not being forced to jump such a regular 

And yet the nerves of most of them were 
inclined to be more shaken than if thev 
had made the attempt. For an unexpected 
sight met their vision. 

Hard by, lying tliere on the ground all 
by himself, some ten or twelve yards 
distant from the fence, was Captain 

His horse had galloped away, and could 


nowhere be seen, though a track of red 
blood seemed to tell that he must have 
been badly hurt in his fall. 

For the thin dark line of treacherous 
metal, which has been responsible for so 
many accidents in the hunting-field, was 
bent and twisted, and in parts tufts of fine 
chestnut-coloured hair adhered to the rusty 

Captain Straightem lay there quite still. 
He never moved or spoke when his 
companions crowded around him. 

His face was turned upwards to the 
sodden sky, one hand was clenched, and 
held between its stifiened fingers a bunch 
of grass torn from its roots, and in his wide 
open eyes there rested a dull and vacant 
look, which somehow struck terror in the 
hearts of the bystanders. 

It filled them with a nameless dread, a 
horrible suspicion, which, staring blankly 
into each other's sobered faces, they had, 


in tlie first startlingness of the shock, not 
courage to mention. 

And the soft foi^ curled itself around the 
dark twic^s of the hedi^e, and as a memento 
of its passage left hanging from each 
pointed thorn a trembling drop. Even in 
that short space of time it had silvered the 
fallen man's hair and covered with a 
white, humid covering his red coat, his 
snowy breeches, his top-boots, and all the 
brave insignia of the chase, with which 
only that morning he had sallied forth, full 
of life and spirits. 

• — ♦- 




Lord Littelbrane was the first to speak. 

" I fear this is a bad business," he said 
huskily. " Does anyone know if there is 
a doctor out hunting to-day ? " 

" Yes, I do, my lord," answered Burnett, 
touching his cap. " I saw Mr. Smith of 
Cottlebury at the meet, riding that there 
rat-tailed grey cob of his." 

" Go and fetch him then this minute." 

" Yes, my lord." 

"And hark you, Burnett, don't spare 
your horse. For once in 3^our life don't 
mind if you bring him back lame or not ; 


only for God's sake find tliis Mr. Smith ; 
and get him to come here immediately." 

It was not often that his lordship spoke at 
such leifgth or with so much energy and 
decision. Burnett at once realized the 
gravity of the situation, and galloped off 
at full speed in the direction from which he 
had recently arrived. 

When he had gone, Lord Littelbrane 
knelt down on the damp grass by the side 
of his prostrate friend, and putting out his 
hand, placed it under Captain Straightem's 
red coat, and over his heart. '• I can't 
feel it beat," he said tremulouslv, lookinix 
up with troubled eyes, at those who stood 
near. "It is horribly still, and there's a 
look about his face which I don't half like. 
Straighten!, old boy," giving him a slight 
shake, " pull yourself together." 

But no answer was forthcominfr. Still 
the same unnatural quietude prevailed. 

And now the truth, in all its solemnity 


aad horror, began to force itself upon Lord 
Littelbrane's compreliension. Fiercely and 
feverishly he endeavoured to thrust it from 
him, but the thought grew and grew, and 
turned his blood to ice. He had seen too 
many bad accidents in the hunting field 
not to know what this portended. Only last 
year a young rough rider of his own had 
been killed whilst followinor the hounds. 

There was the same expression on the 
lad's face as on Captain Straightem's. He 
recalled it with a shudder. His nerves had 
been shaken then, but now he felt as if 
they would give way altogether. He 
seemed stunned and dazed by the magni- 
tude of the disaster. 

For this man, lying here so pale and 
still, was his friend. He had not so many 
that he could afford to lose his best one 
— the only one really after his heart. 
Captain Straightem was endeared to him 
through many ties of association, such as 

VOL. I. 3 


when youths grow up, bind them closely 
together. They had been born in the 
same county, and in the same year. As 
boys they had gone to the same school 
and displayed an equal amount of stu- 
pidity. As men, horses and hounds proved 
an unfailini]^ bond of union between them. 
They knew each other's peculiarities, and 
their ideas of the position and importance 
of a Mutual Adorationite were identical. 

And besides all this, Lord Littelbrane 
was not only proud of Captain Straightem, 
but he entertained a species of veneration 
cr him. There was not another man in 
all the Hunt who could ride like the 
gallant captain. If any serious misfortune 
had now happened to him, who could he — 
Lord Littelbrane — depend upon in future 
to uphold the honour of their sacred body, 
and show these rouiih-and-tumble fellows 
the real scientific way to cross a country? 

And if — if thino-s were as he feared, who 


would jog home with him at his own 
pecuhar pace, after a hard day's hunting, 
not taxing his conversational powers by an 
irritating flow of small talk, but only at 
lono' intervals oivincr vent to some choice 
and almost monosyllabic remark. Then, 
too, who would support him through 
thick and thin, in the various difficulties 
raised by covert-owners, farmers, poultry- 
losers, subscribers, &c. 

A lump came into Lord Littelbrane's 
throat, which threatened to impede his 
respiration. He turned his head hastily 
away, so that none present should perceive 
the moisture which suddenly dimmed his 

Meanwhile a couple of sheep hurdles 
had been torn up from a turnip field close 
by, and on these they laid Captain 
Straightem's body, after first raising it 
reverently from the ground. 

Then the mournful little procession 



marched slowly and sadly through the 
wet fields, until at length a road was 
reached. Near this road stood a tidy 
cottage, and in its parlour they deposited 
their burden on the sofa. 

Lord Littelbrane would not leave his 
friend, even for a moment. He kept his 
eyes rivetted on Captain Straightem's face, 
in the hope of seeing some sign of life 
return to it. But one of the party kept 
watch outside the door, and paced rest- 
lessly up and down the road, waiting and 
lomrinsf for Doctor Smith's arrival. *• 

So the minutes passed anxiously away. 
They seemed interminable, and the gloom 
of the atmosphere coincided with the gloom 
of their spirits. 

For although they tried by every re- 
storative they could think of, to bring 
colour to the fallen man's cheek, warmth 
to his flesh, and light to his eye, all their 
attempts proved vain. 


At last the sound of hoofs was heard, 
and in another second, Burnett emerged 
like a giant from the fog, followed by 
Doctor Smith on his grey cob. Both 
horses were panting, and gave evidence 
of the speed at which they had travelled. 

The doctor dismounted, and after a few 
words of explanation from Lord Littelbrane, 
who came out to greet him, flung the reins 
to Burnett, and disappeared within the 
cottage. Arrived there, one look was 
enough to convince him that here were 
no bones to set, no cuts to strap, or 
wounds to dress. 

Captain Straightem was past the aid of 
man. Not all the skill and science in 
the world could avail him now. He had 
gone where such things were unable to 

Doctor Smith shook his head, and his 
countenance assumed an unusually grave 


" Well ! " asked Lord Littelbrane in an 
awestruck voice, for he knew what was 


"Is there — is there any chance of his 
getting over it ? " 

" Not in this world," said the doctor 
seriously. " Captain Straight em is dead, 
and has been so for some time." 

" Dead ! " exclaimed the other with 
sharp anguish. " Oh ! no, not dead, surely 
not dead. I will telegraph to London for 
the best advice. Somebody must pull him 

" Neither I, nor anvbodv else, can do 
him any good, poor fellow ! I only 
wish that we could." 

At this terrible confirmation of his worst 
fears, Lord Littelbrane sank down on his 
knees by Captain Straightem's side, and 
buried his face in his hands. 

Absolute silence prevailed throughout 
the room. None felt inclined to break it. 


Only every now and again could be heard 
a suppressed sob, wliich escaped from his 
lordship almost involuntarily. 

In spite of his vapidity, his reserve, and 
curious conceit he had a heart. During 
many years he had striven to conceal its 
existence, but now it burst through that 
veneer of impenetrabilit}^, on which, as a 
Mutual Adorationite, he had long prided 

Something seemed to give way within 
him, and he bowed his head and wept like 
a child. 

The effort to maintain a dignified stoicism 
was beyond his strength. 

And those who had never liked him — 
who had called him a fool, a prig, an 
aristocrat — thought better of him at this 
moment than they had ever done. The 
resentment of years vanished. The shghts 
and insults of seasons were forgotten. For 
the first time almost in their lives, thev 


felt that he was human : a creature like 
themselves, who loved, and mourned, and 
suffered. " lie ain't such a bad chap after 
all I '* thev murmured to one another. 
" It's his way and very likely he don't 
mean anything by it. We have been foolish 
enough to take offence where probably 
none was intended." 

Meantime Dr. Smith was making a 
minute examination in order to ascertain 
the exact cause of death. As a hunting 
man himself, he felt an unusual interest in 
the case. He soon discovered what had 

"Poor chap," he said, in his rough but 
sympathetic way. (At any other time Lord 
Littelbrane would have winced at hearing 
his best friend called a " poor chap," but 
he was too thoroughly upset and startled 
out of his usual groove to take any notice 
now.) ''He has broken his neck. It is 
quite clear to my mind, that when he fell 


he landed on the point of his chin, which 
caused the entire head to be violently- 
jerked backwards, from which dislocation 
of the cervical vertebrae ensued." Then 
he looked commiseratingly at Lord Littel- 
brane, and added : 

" Don't take on so, my lord. This is a 
dreadful business, but it should at least be 
some consolation to you to know that death 
was instantaneous, and that your friend 
was spared all pain." 

But Lord Littelbrane shook his sleek, 
fair head, and refused to be comforted. 

The shock was so great and so entirely 
unexpected, that for once in his life it made 
him forget himself and his dignity. Later 
on it would be a cause of shame, when he 
reflected that he had allowed these " out- 
siders " to see that he possessed feelings 
and emotions, and was not the iceberg he 
strove to appear. 

But the " outsiders " respected his grief 


and, as before stated, thought none the 
worse of him in consequence. 

While all this was izoini? on, a consider- 
able crowd had collected round the 

Ill news travels apace, as the saying tells 
us, and stra^^^lers bei]fan to pour in from 
all sides. 

"What, dead? Straiizhtemdead? You 
don't mean it ! " 

"Yes, I do thouo^h. Terrible tliino^. 
Been dead an hour. Had a bad fall and 
broke his neck." 

" Dear me ! How dreadful ! How did 
it happen ? " 

" The old story. Wire. Farmer deserves 
to be strung up." 

The above were a specimen of the 
remarks that went the round. Everybody 
looked shocked and saddened. For even 
those who had not known Captain 
Straighten! personally, knew him by 


siglit, and were sobered by the intelligence 
of the disaster that had befallen him. 

Men fear death ; and none so much as 
the strong and healthy, whose minds refuse 
to dwell on the possibility of annihilation, 
and whose physical vitality laughs it to 
scorn. But this sudden cutting off of one 
of their number brought home, in a 
forcible way, the dangers of hunting. 

What had happened to Captain 
Straightem mught have happened equally 
to themselves. They — not he — might have 
been lying dead inside the homely cottage. 

Tiie mere idea was enou^li to shake their 
nerves, and to send a cold shudder down 
their spines. Sadl}^ and quietly they 
gradually dispersed, whilst Burnett collected 
his hounds — only twenty-one couple now, 
instead of twenty-two — and moved slowly 
off in the direction of the kennels. Ilis 
orders were, that they should not come out 
again for a fortnight. There was to 


be no Imnting in the Morbey Anstead 
country during that time. 

If Lord Littelbrane could do nothing else, 
he was determined to pay respect to the 
dead man's memory. 

And so ended the first da}- of the season. 
It had both begun and finished badly, and 
the Mutual Adorationites had receiyed a 
blow which quite prostrated them. For 
their king was no more, and they knew of 
none to fill his place. Where was the man 
who could combine such brilliant horse- 
manship with such hauteur, such exclusiye- 
ness and reserve ? 




A WEEK after the sad event recorded in 
the last chapter, Lord Littelbrane and 
General Prosieboy sat down to a tete-a-tete 
dinner at the house of the former. 

His lordship was a bachelor, and not 
much given to running after the fair sex. 

As a matter of fact, few of the Mutual 
Adorationites were married men. Mutual 
adoration did not seem to work well in the 
bosom of one's family. Not many wives 
admired and looked up to their husbands 
as they ought. They had a nasty knack 
of bringing their lords and masters* weak 
points to light. So said the M. A.'s. 
Anyhow they did not approve of matrimony 


as an institution. It broke up their ranks, 
and introduced an altogether new and un- 
Tvelcome element. Once a man married he 
was never quite the same. He was no 
longer allowed to follow his own judg- 
ment, and his visiting list soon showed a 
sad deterioration. 

For thisj and many other reasons, it 
resulted that if one of the genuine Mutual 
Adorationites was rash enoui^h to turn 
Benedict- he was generally treated with a 
considerable amount of frigidity for a very 
long time afterwards. 

It took several years before the offence 
was forgiven, and even if the bride were 
altoc^ether charminix she never found her- 
self wholly accepted. The M. A.'s, to one 
man, felt that they owed her a grudge, for 
weakening dear Adolphus's or dear Sidne3^'s 
allegiance to their sacred bod3\ But as 
regards Lord Littelbrane, he could not help 
entertaining an uneasy conviction that 


some day or otlier lie was bound to get 
married. An lieir to tlie title was im- 
perative. He had told himself this for the 
last ten or twelve years, during which he 
made sundry virtuous resolutions, and 
repeatedly determined to sacrifice his 
bachelor independence ; but so far these 
ofood resolves had come to nothinsf. 

He would be forty-six next birthday, 
and Littelbrane Castle was still without a 
mistress. Match-making mammas, possess- 
ing ambitious daughters, had angled for 
him in vain, and now, in despair, they had 
given him up as a bad job, and reluctantly 
turned their attention elsewhere. Both the 
late Captain Straightem and his lordship 
seemed equally proof against feminine 
blandishments, and it was rumoured in the 
county that they would never take a wife 
to weaken, if not destroy their intimacy, 
and prevent them from being constantly 


But since his friend's sudden death, Lord 
Littelbrane's whole mental condition had 
undergone a complete alteration. Cir- 
cumstances had brought about a curious 
chamre in his ideas. When he looked 
round at his great big barrack of a house, 
with its endless rooms, swarms of servants, 
and absence of an}- real comfort, it struck 
him all at once that he was ver}^ lonely, 
that many a labouring man, with a stout 
red-cheeked wife and half a dozen babies, 
was happier far than he. lie began to 
wonder what it ^\ould feel like to be the 
father of a family, to set his little children 
on his knee, and play with their golden 
curls. A strange yearning came over him 
for sympathy and companionship — a sym- 
pathy and companionship even closer than 
that which he had just lost. 

And thus wondering and speculating, 
his thoughts reverted to a certain Lady 
De Fochsey, who was both vounij and 


pretty, and the widow of a deceased 
baronet. She was a very smart, natty little 
lady, who in her scarlet jacket and white 
waistcoat, did credit to his Hunt. The 
Mutual Adorationites all knew her, and on 
account of her good looks, received her as 
one of themselves. True he had never 
paid her any attention, but that might 
easily be rectified, and he fancied she 
would accept his advances graciously. 

Still, it was a desperate plunge, this 
which he contemplated taking — so des- 
perate that nothing but the loss of his 
friend could have made him entertain the 
idea in earnest. 

His first notion was to invite Lady De 
Fochsey to come and take a quiet little 
dinner with him, explaining that he felt 
very melancholy and required cheerful 
societv. He was convinced she was 
cheerful. Her laugh rang out so merrily 
at the covert side that it had once or twice 
VOL. I. 4 


actually aroused his curiosity as to the 
cause of her mirth. Women ought to be 
cheerful. lie liked them so, as long as 
they were not " loud." He hoped she was 
not " loud," and wished he knew her well 
enough to make quite sure. 

But when he came to consider the 
slightness of his acquaintanceship with 
Lad}" De Fochsey, he arrived at the con- 
clusion that it was out of the question for 
him to ask her to dinner in this sudden and 
informal manner. So, as his solitude was 
rapidly becoming unbearable, he invited old 
General Prosieboy instead, v.dio although 
he did not much appreciate the Castle 
cuisine, liked being able to say : " Oh, ah ! 
my dear fellow ! If you've nothing better 
to do to-night, come and take pot-luck 
with me. Damme though, I forgot, I'm 
dining with Lord Littelbrane. See you 
some other time I hope." But he always 
took good care to leave that " other time " 


indefinite, and never alluded to it wlien 
next lie met the " dear fellow." The dininof 
room at Littelbrane Castle was very laro^e 
and also very cold. No matter how big 
the fire, it only warmed one portion of the 
apartment. The old windows rattled, the 
old doors creaked, and the wind seemed to 
blow in at all sorts of possible and impos- 
sible places. 

Eound and round the dinner-table stalked 
a pompous, grey-haired butler and a couple 
of solemnly-stupid footmen. These wordiies 
took special care to prevent their master 
and his guest from indulging too freely in 
the pleasures of the table. 

The soup might have been a liquid 
medicine, to be taken cautiously — one to 
two table-spoons in a little water. The fish 
was served out in such lilliputian quan- 
tities, that it was only an aggravation to a 
hungry, healthy man. The entree con- 
sisted of a tiny oyster patty apiece, with 


one sinnrle oyster in its midst — that is for 
the eaters. There were plenty of patties on 
the disli, but they were smuggled away 
with a sleight-of-hand that would have 
reflected credit upon Messrs. Maskelyne 
and Cooke. This was the more provoking 
as General Prosieboy was fond of oysters. 

Mutton ? Yes ! there was mutton 
certainly, but what was the good of that 
when 3'ou were helped to a slice that 
might have been carved from the breast 
of a lark. 

And yet, night after night. Lord Littel- 
brane sat down to this mockerv of a meal 
because he considered it to be " the thing ! '* 
IJe would rather go without a morsel and 
be waited upon by three pompous men- 
servants, than he would dispense with their 
services, and help himself as he liked, and 
ho IV he liked. 

So much for fashion. 

But General Prosieboy was not exactly a 


fashionable man, and moreover lie pos- 
sessed a remarkably good appetite. 

At home he invariably insisted on his 
parlour-maid putting each separate dish 
on the table. Then he did c^et something 
to eat. But really ! at Littelbrane Castle, 
in spite of all the fine furniture, old armour, 
and retinue of servants, when he got up 
from the table he felt very nearly if not 
quite as hungry as when he sat down 
to it. 

However, he was on his company 
manners, and stood too much in awe of 
Lord Littelbrane's exalted rank — his father 
had made all his money in Prosieboy's 
antibilious pills — to air his sentiments 
aloud. Had he done so they would pro- 
bably have been translated by oaths. On 
the present occasion, with a mighty effort 
of self-control, he succeeded in maintaining 
a decorous silence, mentally determining to 
have up that excellent piece of cold beef 


lie had had for luncheon, directly he 
reached home. 

He fumed inwardly all the time the three 
great, silent sentinels were in the room, 
but when they removed their restraining 
presence, carrying everything eatable away 
with them that they could, the atmosphere 
seemed suddenly to have grown less oppres- 
sive. Then the two gentlemen drew up 
their chairs close to the lire-side, and 
placed the port and claret on the mantel- 
piece where it was easily get-at-able. 

After consumim? four or five c^lasses, 
the strings of their tongues gradually 
became unloosened. The Littelbrane wine 
was good, and General Prosieboy revenged 
himself upon it, for not having dined. 

" Ahem ! " he said communicativelv, and 
with the air of a man who considers he is 
imparting a wonderful piece of intelligence. 
" I forgot to tell you before, but I've seen 


His lordship at that moment was think- 
ing quite sentimentally — thanks to the 
Chateau Lafitte — of Lady De Fochsey's 
ros}^, smiling face, her trim figure and 
sparkling blue eyes. 

" Eh ! what ! Seen him ? Seen who ? " 
he asked with rather a guilty start. 

" Why, the new man. The man who 
comes in for all poor old Straightem's 
property. The nephew, in short.'' 

" Have you, by Jove ! And what's he 
like ? Can we have anything to do with 
him ? " And as he made the inquiry. Lord 
Littelbrane's countenance assumed an ex- 
pression which seemed to say that he, for 
one, was convinced the Mutual Adoration- 
ites could not be hand in glove with a total 
stranger, hailing from the colonies. 

"Impossible," said General Prosieboy 

His lordship gave a sigh of relief. 

"Why?" he asked, subsiding into his 


usual languid state, whicli forcibly sug- 
gested a torpid liver. 

" Because, as far as lean judge, lie's the 
wrong sort altogether." 

'' Ah ! I expected so, and should have 
been very much astonished had he proved 
anything else." 

" It seems he has lived all his life in 
Australia, and has never been to England 
before. In fact, one could almost tell as 
much from looking at him. Colonist is 
stamped upon him from the crown of his 
hat to the sole of his boots." 

" Poor devil ! ' exclaimed Lord Littel- 
brane commiseratingly. 

" Did Captain Straightem never mention 
this bushman of a relative ? " asked the 
General, with an elderly man's curiosity. 
" I don't seem to have heard of him." 

"Oh! yes, lots of times. But never 
without a shudder. Poor Harry was so 
refined," sighing heavily. "He told me, 


only the morning of his death, that the 
fellow had arrived unexpectedly and pro- 
posed running down to Straightem Court 
to pay him a visit. 'Awful bore,' said 
Harry, ' and the worst of it is, I don't 
know how the deuce to put him off. He's 
got a sort of right to come, since, unless I 
marry and have children, he's the next heir 
to the property.' " 

" He has acquired a most unfortunate 
right to it now," said General Prosieboy 

" Yes, worse luck. Times are indeed 
sadly changed. I wonder though if I 
ought to be civil to the man on Harry's 
account ? " And Lord Littelbrane looked 
uneasily at his companion. 

" I really don't see any necessity for it. 
It does your Lordship's heart immense 
credit even to have suggested such a thing ; 
but, I assure you, you can't possibly 
associate with this aborigine. If you had 


onl}^ seen the creature as I saw him to-day, 
at the railway station, dressed in a brown 
velveteen suit, with a flarinir red tie. and a 
pair of checked trousers that reminded one 
of a chess-board, you would have recognised, 
in spite of your natural kindness, that it is 
quite out of the question for a man in 
your position and of your rank to notice 
so very peculiar a person. Why, damme ! 
he wears clothes that are enoui:^h in 
themselves to make an3'body who has 
the remotest notion of what is cus- 
tomary in civilized societ}^ cut him on the 

" And there is such a lot in clothes," 
murmured his lordship. " I think it was 
Kingsley who said, you can transform any 
gentleman into a blackguard — at least as 
far as outward appearances go — by simply 
taking away his white collar and substitu- 
ting a coloured scarf in its stead. By-the- 
bye, what is the duffer's name ? It's not 

LOKD LITTELBEA:KE feels lonely. 59 

Straiglitem, I know, tliank God for 
that ? " 

" No, it's Jarrett — Eobert P. Jarrett — I 
saw it painted on his portmanteau." 

" I wonder if Mr. Eobert P. Jarrett 
means to favour us with his presence out 

" I expect he is sure to," returned the 
GeneraL " These Austrahans mostly take 
kindly to sport." 

" Confound the fellow ! We shall have 
him jumping on my hounds, and making 
that an excuse to scrape acquaintance with 
me. Eeally Prosiebo}^ if he turns out 
objectionable, as I fully expect from your 
description of him, you must come to the 


" With all my heart, my Lord," replied 
his companion, dilating his nostrils, and 
sniffing the air like an old war-horse who 
smells powder and is eager to begin 
the fray. " You leave Mr. Eobert P. 


Jarrett to me. Ill soon settle Lim, never 

" That's all right. Eemember ProsieLoy, 
I count upon you should any emergency 


And with these words, Lord Littelbrane 
dismissed the subject. 

A long silence succeeded, during which 
host and guest lit a couple of cigars and 
smoked away steadily. The occupation 
evidently strained every faculty ; for con- 
versation lan^^uished, both feelino- that after 
their recent outburst of eloquence they 
needed time to recruit their forces. 

General Prosieboy was the first to make 
a remark. It was scarcely as original as 
might have been expected from the long 
period of incubation required to give it 

" Feels cold to-night," he said. " I 
think we shall have a frost." 

" Oh ! Ah ! very likely. Time of year 


we may expect them," answered his lord- 

Another silence of five minutes followed 
this brilliant sally. 

Then the General a2:ain crave vent to an 
oracular utterance : 

" Shouldn't wonder if we had snow before 

" No, nor I." .... 

Whereupon they both puffed away at 
their cii?ars harder than ever. 

Their ideas appeared totally exhausted. 
Even the weather failed to furnish a further 

But by-and-bye a large lump of coal fell 
down on the grate with a clatter. Lord 
Littelbrane seized the tongs, and stooped 
to pick it up. This broke the spell. 

" Awful bore when coals tumble about,'* 
he said. 

" Awful," replied General Prosieboy. 

Puff, puff, puff. Apparently neither of 


them could think of anything more to say. 
The General could only talk when he was 
drunk or in a rac^e. Take away his oaths 
and his liquor and he was nowhere. As 
for Lord Littelbrane he never could under- 
stand why when people dine together they 
should be supposed to keep up a perpetual 
chatter. What was the pleasure of it in 
comparison with the fatigue ? 

Eleven o'clock strikes, and General 
Prosiebov rises from his seat, and throws 
away the end of his cigar. 

" Think I must be going home," he says. 

"Must you?" rejoins Lord Littelbrane 
passively. lie never presses his guests 
to stay after half-past ten. Li the hunt- 
ing season he invariably keeps early 

" Yes, think so. Good night, my lord. 
Hope you will cheer up before long." 

General Prosieboy's hand is on the 
handle of tlie door as he speaks. In 


another moment lie would have vanished 
into the corridor. 

Ilis lordship plucked up all his courage, 
and made a desperate effort. 

" By the way," he said, whilst a flush 
rose to his sallow face, " what's your 
opinion of that little Lady De Fochsey ? 
She's the right sort, ain't she ? " 

The question took General Prosieboy 
completely by surprise, but he was far too 
diplomatic a gentleman to express the 
astonishment that he felt. 

" Oh, yes ! " he answered in an off-hand 
way, seeing he was evidently desired to 
express approval. " Quite the right sort ; 
a very nice little woman indeed. I know 
nothing whatever against her, except that 
she's rather too thick with some of the 

" Ah ! she's young. Shell soon learn to 
distinguish, especially with the advantage 
of a little judicious guidance. But I'm 


keeping you standing ; good night, Prosie- 
boy, good night." 

And so saying, Lord Littelbrane shook 
hands with his guest, and saw him out at 
the hall door. But this last remark of his 
host's had given the General much food for 

No sooner was he fairly seated within the 
sheltering walls of his one-horse fly, than 
he drew a long breath of dismay. 

" Thunder and lis^htninfr ! " he exclaimed 
dejectedly. " So that's the little game, is 
it ? Why ! bless my heart alive, I do 
believe he's thinking of getting married. 
Was there ever such a set-out? There 
won't be one of us left at this rate. First 
a death, then a marriage ! Upon my soul, 
I hardly know which is the worst of the 
two. As for the Ilunt, it's going to 
the dogs altogether ; and if Lord Littel- 
brane don't look out, he'll be having his 
country over-run with strangers, and a 


lot of confounded radicals who not 
only believe in but act on the principle 
of one man being as good as another. 
Such rot indeed ! " he wound up indig- 

His heart was so heavy within him at the 
mere thought of Lord Littelbrane's con- 
templating matrimony, that when he got 
home he found the cold beef insufficient to 
comfort the sinkings of his inner man. He 
was forced to take a very stiff tumbler of 
brandy and water in addition. 

"Just to quiet the system, Mary, my 
dear ; just to quiet the system," he ex- 
plained to his pretty parlour-maid (he 
never would have an ugly servant in his 
house), chucking her familiarly under the 

" Hexactly, sir ; I understands." 

" The fact of the matter is, Mary, I've 
received a shock, and it has knocked me 
all of a heap." 

VOL. L 5 


"Take another glass of brandy, sir. 
It's uncommon soothing to the nerves." 

"Yes, Mar}^, I will. I think your 
suggestion is a wise one." 

He found it so wise that it was close 
upon one o'clock before he could at length 
be induced to toddle off to his bed. Mary 
had to help him to get there ; but once safely 
between the sheets, thanks to the joint 
effect of Lord Littelbrane's port and of his 
own three-star Henessey, he slept the sleep 
of the just. 

lie had effectually soothed his nerves by 
addling his wits. 




EoBERT Jarrett's motlier and tlie late 
Captain Straiglitem had been only brother 
and sister. 

As children, the boy and girl were 
devoted to each other, but when they grew 
up, fate, that capricious goddess, cast their 
lots in ver}^ different places. 

The young man went into the Guards, 
looked brave and handsome in his uniform, 
spent a considerable amount of money, idled 
away his days, denied himself no luxury, 
and, as times go, was a credit to his doting 

As for Fanny, well, poor Fanny made 

what was considered a most terrible 



"mesalliance." She was destined to 
marry into the aristocracy and she married 
an ai^Ticulturist. 

When this unfortunate event took place 
she was very young ; only a month over 
seventeen, and had but just returned from 
a fashionable boarding school in Brighton, 
where she had been finishing her education 
previous to making her entry into society. 

But, alas ! like a silly romantic child, 
she fell desperately in love with a young 
man, aged » twenty-one, who had been sent 
down to StiHshire to learn farminij ; 
presumably because he had not brains 
enough to learn anything else, or to pass 
the necessary examinations for the army. 
At any rate, he took to turnips and oil- 

He was a gentleman by birth, and that 
was about all that could be said for him — 
at least, so Squire Straighten! declared, 
when his dauuhter came with tears in her 


pretty, blue eyes, and begged him to give 
his consent to her engagement with Mr. 
Charles Jarrett. 

The squire turned purple in the face, 
almost had a fit of apoplexy, and refused 
flatly. The idea ! Wh}^, the girl must be 

But Fanny was too much smitten by her 
lover's pleasant manners, and professions 
of affection, to listen to reason. She even 
thouo^ht there was somethino; fine in making? 
a sacrifice for the sake of him she loved. 
Anyhow, she was young, ignorant and 

Her grandmother had left her five thou- 
sand pounds. Over this sum she possessed 
absolute control. Master Charles' income 
consisted of two hundred a year. He was 
an orphan, and had neither expectations nor 
interest ; but, to do him justice, he was 
genuinely attached to Fanny. To make a 
long story short, one fine day the impru- 


dent and impatient young couple got 
married secretly, trusting that when they 
were actually man and wife the squire 
would relent and be induced to make them 
some further provision than that derived 
from their own very limited means. 

But, like man}^ others, they reckoned 
without their host. 

Old Squire Straightem flew into a 
towering passion when he found that little, 
innocent, blue- eyed Fanny had defied him 
by taking the law into her own hands. 
Eefusing to listen to her prayers for 
forgiveness, he swore a mighty oath that 
, she should never set foot ia5>ide his house 
a^ain. And he was as cfood as his word. 

Mr. and Mrs. Charles Jarrett were there- 
fore obliged to fall back upon their own 
resources. These, as wo know, were not 
large. Fanny was inexperienced ; she had 
been extravagantly brought up, and had 
no notion of housekeeping. 


For six montlis tliey tried living in 
England ; but they found that, do what 
they would, they were running into debt. 
No one could have had better intentions than 
the poor little bride, but she had every- 
thing to learn in her new life, and also a 
good deal to unlearn. It came hardly to 
her at first, and nobody need blame her if 
she made a few blunders. Most of us 
similarly situated would have done the 

But they were a brave young couple, 
and when things seemed likely to go from 
bad to worse, they made up their minds to 
shake themselves free of the old shackles 
and start afresh in Australia. This they 
did ; and with Fanny's five thousand 
pounds Charles Jarrett bought a sheep 
farm and stocked it with sheep. 

Sometimes they had good years, some- 
times they had bad ; but they managed to 
keep their heads above water, and on the 


wliole prospered fairly well. At all events 
Fanny never regretted the step she had 
taken, even although it had completely 
estranged her from her father and brother. 

Charles Jarrett was far too easy-going 
and indolent a man to grow rich. A large 
family — of whom Eobert was the eldest — 
and as the years went b}^ very indifTerent 
health, effectually prevented him from 
makinfT a fortune. 

Thus, when he died at the comparatively 
early age of forty-eight, he was unable to 
do more than leave his wife and children 
above want. 

But Robert, or Bob as he was familiarly 
called, had alread}^ shown himself to be a 
far more active, eneri]^etic and stirring 
individual than his father. He had not 
inherited Charles Jarrett's constitutional 
laziness of disposition, which had effec- 
tually prevented him from getting on in 
the world. 


The farm was left to Eobert. The youn^Tf 
man soon discovered that to a great extent 
it had been grievously mismanaged, and 
that its powers of production had never 
really been tested. His first care was to 
put everything in thorough order. 

Next he tried hard to improve the breed 
of sheep and introduced several new strains 
of blood. But he was not satisfied with 
those that were available ; and after a 
couple of years scraped enough money 
together to provide for the family in his 
absence, and to take him to England. 

Naturally, he was eager to visit the 
country where his mother had been 
born and bred. lie was aware that, 
as matters stood at present, Captain 
Straightem's property would revert to 
him. But he never counted on this 

It seemed altoc^ether too remote, for 
Captain Straightem was by no means an 


old man, and miglit at any time take it 
into his head to 2fet married. 

Bob, in his own mind, was so convinced 
that sooner or later his uncle would espouse 
a better-half, that it very rarely occurred 
to him to think of himself as only one step 
removed from a magnificent estate and 
close upon fifteen thousand a year. 

No such thought actuated him when he 
set foot upon English ground and deemed 
it his duty to write and inform Captain 
Straightem of his arrival, in case that 
gentleman miglit express a wi.^h to make 
his (Bob's) acquaintance. 

To this letter he had received no reply ; 
in lieu thereof came a lawyer's communica- 
tion, formally worded, acquainting him of 
the fact, that owinir to his uncle's sudden 
decease in the hunting held, he was now 
the possessor of Straightem Court, with all 
its adjoining lands. I^ob's amazement may 
be more easily conceived than described. 


111 fact his astonisliment was too great to 
allow him to derive any immediate satisfac- 


tion from the extraordinary alteration that 
had taken place in his prospects. 

It did just flash through his mind that 
henceforth, if he chose, he might apply his 
energies to improving the breed of English 
rather than of Australian sheep, but that 
was all. 

It never even struck him that his 
presence might be necessary at Straightem 
Court, until he received a second letter 
from the family solicitor, requesting his 
immediate attendance. Then by slow 
degjrees he beo'an to realize that he, who 
was accustomed to rise with the sun, to 
saddle and dress his own horse, to be 
content with the coarse fare .and to put 
his hand to every job that came in the 
way, was now transformed into a fine 
gentleman, who had nothing to do but take 
his pleasure and amuse himself from 


morning till night. This dawned upon Bob 
as such a stupendous idea that it almost 
took away his breath. It is not an easy 
thing when all your thoughts have been 
attuned to a particular groove, suddenly to 
divert them into another and totally un- 
familiar one. It takes a little time before 
the adaptation becomes complete. 

Bob was a young man who possessed an 
immense amount of vitality and of that 
nervous force which delights in work and 
in conquering it. He liked the active, even 
if somewhat rough, life which lie had 
hitherto led. 

He enjoyed the responsibility of being 
the head of the family and of feeling that 
his brothers and sisters were dependent on 
him. It sent a thrill of pleasurable pride 
throu<]fh his frame to see their brio^ht and 
happy faces as they came clustering round 
him after a hard day's work. Somehow or 
other the simple homely way in which they 


lived seemed to bind every member of the 
family, from the eldest to the youngest, in 
ties of close affection. 

True they were not rich, each one had to 
take his or her share in the daily toil, but 
for all that they had been very, very 

Would they be as happy if they lived in 
a grand house, had any amount of money 
to spend and lots of servants to wait upon 
them, instead of waiting upon themselves 
as they had hitherto been accustomed to 

Bob hoped so ; but he was not quite 

This sudden change in their lives seemed 
to him a bit of an experiment ; it might or 
it might not turn out well. 

He was Australian born and bred, and 
loved the sunny land of his birth ; he 
possessed a sturdy independence and manly 
blunt ness, which did very well for the 


colonies, but he was sensitive enough to feel 
tliat, in his new position, his manners would 
probably require a considerable amount of 
toning down. In Australia people did not 
wrap their speech up in silver paper, they 
said what tlie}^ meant and did not sneer at 
conversation which owed its birth to home 
mterests, and often to home interests alone. 

But Bob had not been fuur and twenty 
hours in the old country before he realized 
that a subtle difference existed between it 
and the new ; the former was more polished 
if not so fresh ; more fastidious and critical, 
though infmitely less light-hearted. 

Even as regarded his dress, he soon came 
to have considerable misgivings. 

His brown velveteen suit, red tie, and 
checked trousers, no longer afTorded him 
quite the same satisfaction as on board ship. 

Somehow they seemed out of place in 
the London streets, where he noticed people 
all dressed quietly and mostly in black or 


dark colours. Once or twice his appear- 
ance evidently excited surprise, and lie 
felt extremely uncomfortable, not knowing 
exactly what there was about it that was 

In fact, if General Prosiebov had but 
known with how much inward trepidation 
"The Duffer, The Brute, The Creature" 
was about to enter into his kingdom, even 
he might have felt mollihed and not been 
quite so hostilely inclined towards Captain 
Straightem's unknown nephew and suc- 

But the die was cast ; the fiat had gone 

Eobert P. Jarrett was doomed before- 

The Mutual Adorationites had decided 
that he should neither be known nor yet 

Other people might take up with him if 
they chose ; but they would not demean 


themselves by having anything whatever 
to do with an individual who wore the 
wrong kind of clothes, and had no pre- 
tensions of " the ric^ht sort." 

Mr. Jarrett should be made to feel in 
everj^ possible way that his presence in the 
county was undesired and superfluous ; 
that he was unpardonably occupying a 
house which, but for him, might have been 
inhabited by a good fellow ; and that 
under no circumstances could he ever be 
accepted as fit company for the Mutual 
Adorationites. If he insisted on cominix 
out hunting, of course they could not 
actually prevent him. lie had a right to 
gallop over the fields and tear after the 
hounds if he chose. 

But nobody need speak to him, except to 
swear roundly at him if he got in the way, 
or committed the smallest error of inex- 

They could all stare at him blankly, and 


refuse to recognize his presence as a fellow- 
creature. They could feign deafness if he 
hazarded a remark ; blindness if he came 
across their path. 

Thev could show him the cold shoulder 
to his face, and abuse him to their heart's 
content behind his back. 

And this the Mutual Adorationites, ac- 
cording to their usual manners and customs, 
were determined to do. 

He should be snubbed, and snubbed 

For had not General Prosieboy given 
out that their poor old friend Straightem's 
successor was a " duffer " and an " out- 
sider," with whom they ought not to asso- 
ciate ? And would it not be showing dis- 
respect to the dead man's memory, if they 
received with open arms a nephew of 
whom, in his lifetime, he was evidently 
ashamed ? 

Yes. There was such a thing as esprit 
VOL. I. 6 


de corps. If the Mutual Adorationltes did 
not wish to be swamped altogether by the 
odious radical wave of the century, they 
were bound to uphold their ancient habits 
and customs. 

Moreover, they were perfectly satisfied 
with themselves as they were, and wanted 
no innovations introduced amongst their 

ro 6^ 




Although our friend Bob liad lieard and 
read a good deal of tlie luxurious and, to a 
great extent, indolent way in which Eng- 
lish gentlemen live when at all well ofT, he 
had no really definite notions on the subject 
until he arrived at Straightem Court. His 
mother had often talked to her children of 
the magnitude of her old home ; but then 
seeing a thing with one's own eyes is very 
different from having an impression made 
upon your mind through the medium of 
somebody else's optics. 

The number and size of the rooms at 
Straightem Court fairly amazed Bob. 

" What are they all for ? What are they 


all for?" he kept on asking of the family 
solicitor who showed him over the pre- 
mises, and had promised to remain for a 
day or two. 

"For use, I suppose," replied that worthy, 
with a strong accent of reproof. 

" For use ! Do you mean to tell me that 
one parlour is not enough for anybody ? 
Why, on my farm in Australia, we never 
dreamt of wanting a dining, drawing, 
breakfast, bilhard and reading room, as 
3'ou seem to have here. And what's more, 
it ain't comfort — leastways, to my mind," 
concluded Bob, decidedlv. 

His companion looked at him with a 
smile half supercilious, half contemptuous. 

" You'll soon fiQt to alter some of vour 
opinions, Mr. Jarrett. It is quite evident 
that you have lived very much out of the 

" Damn his impudence," muttered Bob, 
sotto voce, "He talks as if there were do 


Other country but his own particular, little 
sea-girt island. It's wonderful how ignorant 
and how cheeky these Englishmen are. 
There's no getting them to see themselves 
in their true light." 

But he kept his reflections to himself, 
and turning sharply to his uncle's solicitor, 
said : 

" And pray, wdiat about the servants ? 
Am I supposed to keep all this troop of 
idle people, eating me out of house and 
home ? Because it strikes me that would 
come uncommon rough on a fellow, 
especially w^hen, like myself, he is a 
stranger at the game." 

" You will be able to arrange all these 
matters to your own satisfaction when once 
you have regularly entered into possession," 
said the other stiffly, beginning to think 
what a terrible, sharp, fresh, outspoken 
aborigine this was. 

" Come ! that's a mercy at any rate," 


said Bob, with a sigh of relief ; for the 
mere contemplation of maintaining so large 
a staff of domestics was oppressive, and 
filled him with dismay. Yet, distrustful of 
his own opinions on subjects of which 
hitherto he had had no experience, he 
added seriously : " Listen, Tomlinson. You 
are a sensible man, and can give me a 
straightforward answer to a straightforward 
question. I only want to get at the reason 
of things, and no doubt you can tell me 
what is the use of all these idle folks ? It 
seems to me there are too many of them by 
half, and they only make work for one 

Mr. Tomlinson scratched his head, and 
looked somewhat perplexed. The question 
put thus, was not altogether easy to answer. 

"It is customar}^ Mr. Jarrett, in all large 
houses, to keep up a good establishment — 
that is to say, where there are sufficient 



Bob's face assumed a thoughtful expres- 

" I don't see," he said, " how one person, 
living quite alone like my late uncle, could 
possibly need so many people to minister 
to his wants. It seems an anomaly for a 
single man to employ such a number of 
servants just to attend to his mere personal 
requirements. Now, if / were an English 
gentleman, I should hate to feel myself 
dependent upon my cook, butler, or foot- 
man, as the case might be. It's turning 
a fellow into a regular slave, and a slave of 
a very poor, contemptible order." 

" I suppose you learnt those ideas out in 
Australia," said Mr. Tomlinson rather un- 
comfortabl}^, and on that account trying to 
infuse an extra amount of satire into his 

" Perhaps I did, and perhaps I didn't," 
answered Bob, a bit nettled by the solici- 
tor's overbearing manner. " Anyhow, 


whether I learnt them in Australia or else- 
where, they are ideas of which I do not 
feel at all ashamed, and on the contrary- 
should despise myself if I did not entertain. 
There is a padded person in this house, 
with sham white hair, and sham round 
calves, who comes to opon the door. Can 
you tell me what that cumbrous mass of 
human flesh, with its painful deficiency of 
human brains, is good for? — since I am 
convinced he has never done a stroke of 
real, honest work in his life. I ask this 
because the individual in question has 
aroused my curiosity." 

"I presume you mean Charles, the foot- 
man. A very hue, well-made man, over 
six feet in height, and an ornament to any 
gentleman's establishment," returned Mr. 

"Ha, ha!" laughed Bob. "Just as a 
fatted ox is an ornament to the gentleman's 
farm. I beiiin to see matters in a clearer 


liglit. Show evidently comes before use 
over here." 

" Charles answers the bells, waits at 
table, and, as far as I know, has always 
proved himself to be an honest and respect- 
able servant," said Tomlinson, testily. 

" My dear sir, honesty and respectability 
are very excellent things in their way. 
Nobody has a greater respect for them 
than myself. But when you find these 
admirable qualities united to intense slow- 
ness of perception and pomposity of move- 
ment, to crass stupidity and the sloth of an 
overfed pig, then you can't help thinking 
that they are not all-sufficient. Now, last 
night I wanted a glass of whisky and 
water. At home I could have gone to the 
cupboard, fetched the whisky bottle, boiled 
myself a drop of water in the kettle, and 
got what I wished for without further 
trouble and little or no delay. Here, there 
are a butler and a footman, therefore I rang 


the cell. They either did not, or would 
not hear it. In about five minutes' time, 
after pulling frantically at the bell-rope 
till at last it gave way, my friend Charles 
appears. I explain my requirements. He 
disappears. I wait another ten minutes. 
Presumably the water is being boiled. 
Unluckily there is no longer any bell to 
pull. I wait impatiently, and try to 
smother the oaths that insist on rising 
to my lips. Presently I hear a leviathan 
tread — the tread of an elephant — sounding 
down the passage. With the deliberation 
with which all his movements are attended, 
Charles brings into the room a hot water 
jug. There is neither glass, whisky, nor 
sugar. I. ask him where they are. He 
answers that he has forgotten, but will 
brii)2[ them in a minute. A minute, indeed ! 
Exactly a quarter of an hour has elapsed 
since I first made known my modest de- 
mand. By this time, all my desire for a 


glass of comforting liquor has vanished. 
I resolve to do without it. No doubt I am 
all the better for my abstention, but it's no 
use telling me that this sort of thing is 
real comfort. It's downright bondage and 
nothing more, and comes from your old 
habits, your old institutions and your old 

Mr. Tomlinson drew liimself up to his 
full height, mentally classifying Bob as an 
unbearable Yahoo. 

" I am sorrj our manners and customs 
should appear so inferior to your Aus- 
tralian ones," he said, with an ill-disguised 

" It's not that," Bob explained eagerly. 
" Only you don't seem to value Time in 
the way we do. Now, to waste a quarter 
of an hour over a drop of whisky would 
appear to us almost a sin ; and not only 
a sin, but downright ridiculous into the 
bargain. But then, we are used to waiting 


upon ourselves, which no boubt makes all 
the difference." 

" We English are a conservative race, I'll 
admit," returned Mr. Tomlinson, in a more 
conciliatory tone ; " but it is rather hard 
to find one's own children turn round and 
abuse one." 

" My dear sir," exclaimed Bob, pray 
don't imagine for a single moment that 
I have not the greatest respect and ad- 
miration for your race. Why ! what have 
I come over here for, except to pick up 
a few wrinkles, and profit by some of your 
insular notions But you must forgive me 
if, in my blundering way, I try to dis- 
tinguish where you are ahead of us, and 
where we are ahead of you. We look up 
to old England with intense veneration, but 
then, even the best of mothers gets ancient, 
and leaves her offspring with an advantage 
of youth on their side. There are too 
many of you over here. Your population 


iacreases, and you are bound in by tlie sea. 
Soon tlie question will be : ' What shall we 
eat ? How shall we exist ? ' In Australia 
and America we have still plenty of room, 
thank God! but on the other hand our 
manners are not polished, and we want a 
great deal of the refinement for which you 
are conspicuous." 

" I am pleased to hear you make the 
admission, Mr. Jarrett." 

" I feel disposed to make any number 
of admissions, Mr. Tomlinson, only I must 
not take up your time by inflicting too 
many of my crude, colonial opinions upon 
you. And now, what do you say to 
accompanyiuGf me to the stables? A real 
English hunter is what I have lon^^ed all 
my life to behold." 

The solicitor assented to this proposition, 
whereupon Bob and his mentor gave up 
arguing and proceeded direct to the 





As is generally the case in most good 
hunting counties, great care and attention 
had been bestowed upon the equine depart- 
ment. The stables at Strai^htem Court were 
approached by a massive stone archway, 
rendered picturesque by the luxuriant ivy 
which cluno' to its walls. 

This archway led into a square, neatly- 
tiled court-yard, round three sides of which 
ran the hunters' loose boxes, the remaining 
one being devoted to wash-houses, harness 
rooms, SiC. The late Captain Straighlem 
had prided himself on the number and the 
superior quality of his horses. Xo man in 
the whole county owned better animals or 
ones of a higher class. 


Out of sixteen, nearly all were thorough- 
bred, or next door to it. 

This fact, perhaps, was not remarkable 
in itself, but it was rendered so by every 
single quadruped being up to fourteen 
stone. And those who know anything of 
horseflesh will at once recognize how much 
time, trouble and money must have been 
expended by the deceased gentleman to 
achieve such a result. 

It is far from being easily obtained. 
As a rule, the class of thoroughbreds 
seen in the hunting field is represented by 
weedy screws, long and narrow, pos- 
sessing handy heels and suspicious looking 
fore-legs. Nhie times out of ten they are 
worthless cast-ofTs from the turf, who have 
been condemned at the very first trial, and 
never been allowed the chance of disgracing 
themselves in public. 

When our friend Bob walked into the 
Straightem Court stables, and glanced down 


tlie loni,^ line of roomy, loose boxes, with 
their small-headed, satin-coated inmates, 
for the first time since his arrival in 
England he expressed himself in terms of 
unqualified admiration. 

"Yes," he said, turning vivaciously to 
his companion, " you beat us here, I'll 
admit. Our horses are all very good in 
their way, but they are not a patch on 
these. They are a rough, ragged, common- 
looking lot in comparison. Not but what 
they can go — aye, and jump also. Ill back 
some of our kauG^aroos at home to cet to 
the bottom of the best horse ever foaled. 
It's wonderful how the beggars slip over 
the ground. Occasionally, too, we come 
across timber that is real awkward. But 

for all this, I know quite well how very 
superior your English hunting is." 

" I'm delighted you should think any- 

tiling superior over here, Mr. Jarrett," said 

Tonilinson, still maintaininuf a tone of 


asperity. " You've been very hard to 
satisfy so far." 

" Well, anyway, I'm satisfied now ; I 
don't mind confessing how impatient I am 
to try my hand at some hona-Jide fox- 
hunting, such as Australia cannot furnish." 

" You have a stud of horses here, Mr. 
Jarrett, which I take it will enable you to 
see as much of the sport as you like. I'm 
no great connoisseur in such matters my- 
self, but I always heard that no one was 
so famous for the quality of his cattle as my 
late respected client." 

" Ah ! poor chap ! " exclaimed Bob, his 
face growing suddenly grave, " I was quite 
forgetting about him. Of course, never 
havin^f known him makes a lot of differ- 
ence ; nevertheless it seems horrid of me 
to be looking forward to riding his gees, 
when he is hardly cold in his grave." 

'* It does strike one as rather soon, cer- 
tainly," acquiesced Mr. TomlinsoiJ. 

VOL. I 7 


Bob Stuck his hands into his trousers 
pockets, and for a second appeared to be 
revolving some mental problem. It did 
not take him long to come to a solution, 
for in another minute he said, speaking 
decisively, as if to convince himself as well 
as his hearer : 

" It's impossible to pretend to have any 
personal feeling for a man who is an 
absolute stranger to you. Of course, I am 
sorry my uncle's death should have oc- 
curred ; but if I were to go about in sack- 
cloth and ashes, then I should feel like a 
most tremendous humbug. Besides," and 
his face lit up with youthful enthusiasm, 
" I can't help wanting to hunt when I get 
a chance. By-the-bye, do 3'ou happen to 
know when the hounds meet ai^ain ? " 

" I really have no idea," returned Mr. 
Tomlinson disapprovingly ; for Bob's 
manners were not at all in accordance with 
his notions of what those of a iicntleman 


occupying his client's present important 
position should be. " You know Matthews, 
no doubt ? " and he turned interrogatively 
towards Captain Straightem's stud-groom, 
who up till now had stood silently by, 
lookinof at his new" master with a very 
dubious expression of countenance. 

If Matthews was anything, Matthews was 
conservative, and like Mr. Tomlinson, he 
perceived a good deal in Bob's aspect and 
attire not exactly in accordance with his 
ideas of the appearance a real " out-and- 
out swell " should present. 

" Yes, sir," he said in answer to the 
law^yer's inquiry. " 'Ounds don't go out 
'afore Monday week, and," sotto-voce, " they 
w^ould not go then, if Lord Littelbrane had 
his way."- 

" Not before Monday week ! " exclaimed 
Bob, with a shade of disappointment. 
" Then I shall be obliged to curb my 
impatience. However," addressing Matthews 



in his quick, bright way, " I've already 
made up my mind which horse I shall ride." 

" Indeed, sir ! " said the stud-groom, not 
without a touch of irony. " May I make 
so bold as to inquire your choice ? " 

" Yes ; " said Bob, " this is the animal 
that takes my fancy. I don't set up for an 
authorit}^ but according to my views, he's 
the pick of the whole basket," and so say- 
ing, he opened the door of the nearest box, 
in which was standing a most admirably 
shaped and perfectly proportioned chestnut. 

" You're not far out, sir," said the old 
groom, with a pleased smile beginning to 
steal over his face. " I see as 'ow you 
knows a good hoss when you sees him." 

" I ought to," replied Bob ; " for one 
way and another, I have had plenty to do 
with horses. What do vou call this hand- 
some fellow ? " 

" Kingfisher, sir.'* 

" And not half a bad name, thouiih he is 


sucli a thorough gentleman, that he ought 
to have been ' The King ' without the 
' fisher.' But, I say, " suddenly bending 
down and inspecting a couple of half-healed 
wales on the good horse's forearms, " what's 
the matter here ? He looks as if he had 
been in the wars." 

Matthews' naturally impassive face began 
to twitch. 

" This, sir," he said, in a curiously 
subded voice, " is the animal on which 
Captain Straightem met his death. King- 
fisher was his favourite mount — and rightly 
so— for a finer hunter never looked through 
a bridle. But," with a sigh, " the hoss has got 
a bad name now, and I'm afraid it will stick 
to him all his life, though he don't deserve 
it — not one bit. It was no fault of his that 
the master came to grief ; and, I tell you, 
sir, I went to look at the fence. I could 
see the hoof-marks where Kingfisher took 
ofi* ; but that there infernal wire was quite 


three yards away from the hedge. No 
animal living could have cleared it. But — 
there — there, I can't bear to think of it all." 

And so saying, Matthews, totally over- 
come by the recent sad occurrence, and by 
the stio-ma which he imagined would attach 
to his favourite horse henceforth and for 
ever, turned sharply away so as to hide two 
great tears that were coursing slowly down 
his weatherbeaten cheeks. 

Up till now Bob had taken somewhat of 
a dislike to the man. He fancied he was 
airified and stuck-up ; but as he listened to 
the husky tones in which Matthews con- 
cluded the above speecli, his heart grew 
suddenly soft, and yielding to a kindly 
impulse, he laid his hand on the old groom's 

" Look here, my man," he said, glancing 
down at him with a pair of bright, yet 
compassionate eyes, " you don't cotton over 
and above much to me, I know. One 


always feels these sort of things without 
being told 'em. From all I hear, you have 
had a very good master, and therefore I, 
for one, say you are quite right not to 
welcome a new one in too much of a 

" It ain't that exactly, sir," interrupted 
Matthews, with evident embarrassment ; 
" leastways, not altogether." 

" Well, never mind ; we need not go into 
all the ins and outs just now, but I can 
make a pretty shrewd guess as to your 
feelings, and, by jingo, were I in your place 
I should feel exactly the same. Moreover, 
Matthews, I can see quite plainly that 
you're not easy in your mind about King- 
fisher. You think after what has happened, 
I shall probably want to sell him." 

" Oh, sir, but you've just guessed my 
thoughts entirely," and once more Matthews' 
eyes began to blink suspiciously, whilst he 
cleared his throat with evident effort. 


" Now look here,'' said Bob, " I daresay 
I'm very far from being the sort of master 
you have been accustomed to ; but that 
ain't my fault any more than it is yours. I 
may be rough ; nevertheless, when I say a 
thing I mean it ; and I give you my word 
of honour that the chestnut shall never pass 
into strani^e hands. I know without bein^ 
told what a good horse he is. I will keep 
him and ride him fairly, just as if all this 
bad business had never happened ; and 
when he gets too old for work, and past 
picking up a comfortable livelihood in the 
green iields, then we'll just send a bullet 
through the poor fellow's head and put him 
out of his misery. There, does that satisfy 
3^ou ? " and Bob looked the stud-groom 
straight in the face. 

All of a sudden, Matthews seized Bob's 
hand and began jerking it up and down, 
exactly as if he were at work on a pump- 


This process lasted several seconds. At 
last lie found 'Voice enough to say 
huskily : 

. " God bless you, sir, for those kind 
words. They show that you have got a 
good heart. And it would just about have 
broken me down to have seen the best 
horse in this, or any county, put up for 
sale at public auction. I bred him myself ; 
handled and broke him in. Nobody except 
me and my poor master ever knew how good 
he was. Oh, dear ! oh, dear ! the thought 
of losing Kingfisher as well as Captain 
Straightem has pretty nigh drove me mad," 
and he wiped his brow with a red cotton 

" My poor old chap, don't give the 
matter another thought. I have promised 
not to sell the horse, and nothing shall 
induce me to do so." 

And so saying, Bob, who was himself 
beginning to feel a little affected by 


Mattliews' emotion, left the stables and 
strolled leisurely towards the house. 

Matthews looked after him long and 

"Yes," he muttered to himself, " he may 
be a bit rough — in fact, he is rough. 
There ain't one man in a thousand as has 
got the captain's beautiful, soft, lazy 
manner ; but for all that, he's not half a 
bad sort of gent. Anyway, I intend to do 
my dooty by him and be all on the square. 
I'll let no one rob him if I can help it." 

And later on, if Matthews ever heard a 
disparaging w^ord about Bob uttered in his 
presence, he always looked severely at the 
offender, and said : 

" You're talking of what you know no- 
thing about. Now I can tell you for a fact 
that Mr. Jarrett is a truer gentleman than 
many of those as thinks a lot more of 
themselves and is not half so iiood in 



A WEEK passed slowly away, and never in 
his life had Eobert P. Jarrett, Esq., felt 
more thoroughly bored and altogether 
miserable. His new prosperity sat uneasily 
upon him. He missed the simple laborious 
open air life to which he had been accus- 
tomed. If he attempted to do the most 
ordinary thing for himself, he found that 
there was nearly always, within arm's 
reach, some individual whose duty it was 
to perform that thing, and who felt 
aggrieved and astonished by " The Master ■ ' 
encroaching upon his or her rights and 

To be thus waited upon, might soon 


have grown bearable to one unaccustomed 
to luxury, had the particular thing only 
been well done. But this it never was. 

To take one small instance amongst 

Bob had always been in the habit of 
sharpening his own razors. It is possible 
that they were not invariably perfectly 
stropped, but at any rate, he sharpened 
them to his entire satisfaction. But now 
he was no longer allowed to continue this 
practice. The gentleman of the padded 
calvet; took charge of his shaving apparatus, 
and professed to honour it with his personal 
supervision. The consequence was that 
never before had Bob's chin suffered to 
such an extent. Hardly a morning passed 
without its receiving some injury of a pain- 
ful and unsightly nature. 

His clothes were another source of 

They were constantly being folded up 


and put away in drawers and cupboards 
whose very existence he knew nothing of. 
To find any particular garment was like 
looking for a needle in a barrel of bran. 
It was enough for him to place an entirely 
clean pocket handkerchief in his pocket 
over night to discover it, after a long 
search, deposited next morning in the 
dirty linen basket, along with socks worn 
for three or four hours only, collars that 
had not a stain or a disfiguring mark upon 
them, and shirts that looked as if they had 
just returned from the washerwoman's 

Now these things, although trifles, were 
trifles utterly opposed to Bob's habits, 
principles and education. He had a horror 
of waste, but more especially of that waste 
so seldom considered, i.e., the needless 
expenditure of human labour and of human 
vitality. His theory was, that people 
should use their heads and save their hands. 


" TJdilk wliat you have got to do, and 
then do it ! " he often said to the men 
employed on his farm ; " but never put 
out your strength needlessly. For instance, 
I drop a handkerchief and a knife out of 
my pocket ; if I am wise, I pick them both 
up together. The one action of stooping 
answers a double purpose ; but a foolish 
man will pick up first the one and then the 
other. Instead of bending down once, he 
bends twice, and by so doing expends 
ph^^sical force, which with a very little 
consideration might have been economized." 

Bob's theories were, no doubt, all very 
well in their way, but he had not been 
four and twentv hours in the mother 
country before discovering that, when 
tested, they were practically useless. It 
seemed to him tliat mam' of the lower 
classes in Eu«dand had never been taunht to 
think. At least, that was the only way he 
could account for their stupidity. As 


for the domestic servants at Straic^litem 
Court, they almost maddened him. One 
and all lived in a little narrow groove, 
filling their stomachs and starving their 
intellects, and performing their daily tasks 
without an atom of forethought or in- 

Perhaps it was because Bob had been 
brought up as a very poor man that habits 
of waste, luxury and expenditure did not 
come easily to him when he suddenly found 
himself placed in the position of a rich 

To have plenty of money at one's com- 
mand, no doubt was pleasant ; but there 
were certain accompaniments of fortune 
which appeared almost intolerable to the 
simply reared Australian. 

And amongst the most intolerable, 
strange to say, he classed his daily meals. 

To eat breakfast, luncheon and dinner 
in stately solitude, and be solemnly stared 


at and execrably waited upon by a couple ot 
stolid men-servants, was almost more than he 
could stand. Over and over again he felt 
as if he must jump up from the table — they 
w^ere so horribly slow — and just take what 
he wanted, independent of the fuss and the 
dignity and the needless procrastination. 
It set every nerve on tension, and filled 
him with a mad desire to kick butler and 
footman out of the room, and dispense 
with their services alt02fether. 

At such times he felt extremely home- 
sick and his thoughts would wander off to 
the pleasant, sociable meals of Australia. 
In his mind's eye he could see his mother 
sittincf at one end of the table, smilinfj 
tenderlv at him. lie could see himsell 
occupying the seat opposite, and all the 
bright, eager, healthy, happy faces of his 
young brothers and sisters, as they crowded 
round the board and looked up to him as 
the head of the family. 


Once more he heard the merry hum of 


voices and peals of light-hearted laughter, 
mixing with the clatter of knives and forks, 
whilst from the oldest to the youngest each 
tried to suppl}^ not only his own, but also 
his neighbour's wants. There was little 
enough of ceremony about those dinners. 
And yet how jolly they were ! How 
entirely free from silly, unmeaning con- 
ventionality. Bob told himself he would 
rather eat a mutton chop over there than 
partake of Lord ^Mayor's fare at Straightem 
Court ; in fact, he became so nervous, that 
he positively dreaded the long, dull stately 
banquets, eaten amidst outward surround- 
ings of magnificence, but with an inward 
sense of intense discomfort and annoyance. 
True, he had only to express a wish for 
the men-servants to retire ; but that was 
precisely what he dared not do. He knew 
he was raw, he knew he was ignorant, and 
in his innermost heart Durned a consuming 
VOL. I. 8 


ambition in all things to imitate the habits 
and customs of a real county gentleman. 

" If I am to live here in future," he 
mused, with the common sense characteristic 
of him, " I must get to be one of them. 
I can tell by my own feelings that I've 
got the deuce of a lot to learn. It's queer 
that so many of these English habits should 
go so much against the grain with me, but 
I'll force myself to fall in with them all the 


It was a brave resolution, rendered the 
more so because he had to exercise an 
immense amount of will-power to put it 
into force, besides - a good deal of self- 
control, and what — to him — was personal 

Liberty had been the one predominating 
feature of his Colonial life. The bonds 
imposed by civilization had hitherto sat 
lightly upon him. lie was a child of the 
soil, of the sun, of the sky, of tlie wind ; 


and as such, free and unconventional. To 
speak the truth and do your duty appeared 
to him better than all the most subtle and 
specious of religions. 

And now he felt cramped and limited, 
like a man confined in a strait jacket. He 
panted for air, for space. England seemed 
to him crreat and vet small : orreat in her 
commercial activity, her factories, her vast 
and busy emporiums ; but small, in that 
she could not see how her love of comfort, 
of luxury and pleasure, was like the 
Eomans of old, slowly but surely bringing 
about her downfall. The nation wanted 
rousing ; like an over-fed chikl, it was 
surfeited and sick. 

Then in the midst of these tragically 
severe reflections, Bob's mind would dart 
off again to home. He thought of his 
favourite sister ; dear, bright-e3'ed, good- 
natured Belle, who was always ready with 
sympathy on every occasion, and to whom 



he invariably confided all liis sorrows and 
disappointments. Little Tottie too, with 
her rosy face, and comical upturned nose. 
How he wished they were with him. He 
began to long for somebody to talk to. 
For Mr. Tomlinson had left, and Bob, who 
was not accustomed to his own society, 
quickly wearied of it and pined for com- 

He missed the occupations of his every- 
day life on the farm ; and unacquainted as 
3'et with his new duties, he wandered 
aimlessly about from house to stable, from 
stable to garden, and from garden to 

He would have given a ten pound note 
to set to work and dress a horse, dig a 
potato bed, or round up the cattle in the 
bii: <]^reen undulatino- fields. 

liut allhoui]:li Englishmen miizht con- 
descend to such occupations in other 
countries, they could not do so in their 


own. Caste and custom equally for- 
bade it. 

At last this lonsf, lonof week came to an 
end, and tlie meets of the Morbey Anstead 
hounds were once more advertised in the 

Bob's spirits rose as he conned them 
over ; the depression which had crept upon 
him vanished. Once more he was all 
eagerness and expectation. 

His intense wish to go out with a first- 
rate pack of English fox-hounds, and judge 
for himself what the national sport was 
really like, at length appeared in a fair 
way of being fulfilled. He looked forward 
to this novel experience with all the ardour 
of a child. 

November the fifteenth broke very dif- 
ferently from November the first. 

The one day had been made up of gloom 
and fog, the other was as brilliant as a blue 
sky and clear sunshine could render it. 


A soft air blew, the fields were vividly 
green, the hedgerows only just beginning 
to change colour, and but for a few flut- 
tering leaves falling with lii>ht irrefjular 
motion to the ground, one might have 
fancied that summer was still lingering, 
loth to take a seven months' farewell of 
Mother Earth. 

On this eventful moriiinir Bob woke 
early, and spent an unusual time over his 
toilet. To tell the truth, until now he had 
never given it a thought. 

But alas ! there were manv difTicullies in 
the way such as he had not dreamt of. 

These, perhaps, may be better under- 
stood when it is hinted that he possessed 
neither breeches nor boots. The necessity 
of such articles had not occurred to him, 
and even now he did not consider them to 
be of very paramount importance. 

But his state of mental serenity soon 
received a severe shock. 



Charles the solemn, Charles the lethargic, 
Charles the padded, was he who dealt the 
blow. He informed his master that 
without such articles of costume he could 
not possibly be seen in the hunting field. 

" Why, bless my heart alive," expostu- 
lated Bob, with considerable animation, 
" when we 2fokan2:aroo chasino^ in Australia 
we none of us care twopence what we 
wear. We think only of the sport, not of 
our clothes." 

"Yes, sir, I suppose so, sir," answered 
Charles, not yielding an inch from the 
position he had assumed. 

" Why ! have you ever been out there ? " 
asked Bob quickly. 

" No, sir ; never, sir." 

" Then what made you say, ' I suppose 
so.' " 

" Because," said Charles with a huge 
accession of dignity, " I himagined that 
them sort of way was good enough for 


the Colonies, but they don't do over here. 
Gents is more pertikler." 

" How do you mean ? I don't quite 

" They likes to looh like gentlemen," re- 
sponded Charles unsympathetically. 

This answer had an exceedingly dispirit- 
ing effect upon Bob. He wondered what 
Charles meant by it ? Did he intend to 
say that no man could look like a gentle- 
man unless he wore boots and breeches 
out hunting, or was the remark applicable 
only to himself ? 

" What the dickens am I to do, then ? '* 
he enquired despondently. 

Charles scratched his head ; an operation 
which apparently furnished him with an 

" Couldn't you get into some of Captain 
Straightem's breeches ? " he suggested. 
" You and he are about of a size, thous^h 
you ain't shaped exactly alike." 


But Bob firmly repudiated this notion. 

It seemed to him quite sufficient to step 
into the dead man's shoes, inherit his 
propert}^, and ride his horses. He drew 
the line at wearinn^ his clothes. There was 
something unnatural and repulsive in the 

" No, no ; of course I couldn't," 
he answered indignantly. " Td sooner 
cut my throat first. Don't mention it 
again." And he looked sternly at 

The latter, though infinitely disgusted, 
gave up the point, but not before he had 
succeeded in detracting considerably from 
Bob's pleasure, and making him feel on 
thoroughly bad terms with himself. 

Finally, after much hesitation, and still 
more perplexity, Susan the housemaid was 
politely called for, and requested to sew 
on two elastic straps to the hem of Bob's 
everyday trousers. With this contrivance, 


he devoutly hoped his pantaloons would 
stop in their place. 

Nevertheless, a species of subdued irri- 
tation pervaded his being. 

Charles' remarks had left their sting, and 
the supercilious smile which wreathed his 
fat and oih' countenance, whilst the straps 
were being adjusted, still further served to 
incense Bob and to increase his anxieties as 
to his " get-up." 

He had very little personal vanity, 
perhaps because as yet it had never been 
called into play. Clothes, as clothes, had 
not formed one of the chief studies of his 
life, as thev do of the modern " Masher." 

The cut of his coat, the sit of his collar, 
the c^laze of his cuffs, and elec^ance of his 
cane, had seldom given him more than a 
passing thought ; but now, all at once, he 
began to conceive of the immense benefits 
which such important items confer upon a 
man moving, or aspiring to move, in good 


English society. When, eventually, he 
sallied forth, he could not help confessing 
to himself that even Charles' opinion 
carried weight. He would have felt many 
degrees easier in his mind could he but 
have been convinced of that individual's 
approval instead of his undisguised scorn. 

The influences of the mother country 
were already at work ; and Bob was soon 
destined to learn how important a factor 
dress is in the hunting field, and how 
often by it, and it alone, men are judged, 
accepted or rejected. 

Ties, bows, buttons, breeches. Who can 
affect to despise ye ? 

Across Bob's mind flashed a little in- 
cident, which long ago he remembered 
having read in some English magazine. 
The words recurred to him vividly. 

" A man once came out hunting who did 
not see fit to wear a white collar. In its 
place he sported a blue spotted comforter, 


which he wcund several times round his 
thick purple neck. jS^ow that man never 
got on. He was cut by the county. 
Nobody knew him. Nobody dreamt of 
asking him to dinner. The reason ? Oh ! 
the reason was simple enough. The com- 
forter damned him. He might have been 
ever so good a fellow, but not a soul would 
take the trouble to find out what a person 
was like wdio was rash enough to dispense 
with white collars." 

This passage seemed, under present cir- 
cumstances, so well adapted to himself, 
that Bob's spirits sank away to nothing at 

Thank o-oodness ! he had on a well 
glazed collar, but then it was of a turn 
down shape, which Charles strongly con- 
demned ; and to make matters worse, his 
tie was blue, and spotted also. 

As for his nether limbs, when he thought 
of those two elastic straps, and how all his 


enjoyment and moral peace depended upon 
their standing the strain to which they 
were subjected, he really had not courage to 
glance at them. 

He could not refrain from gloomy mis- 

For what if they were to give way ? In 
what position should he then be placed ? 
Torturins^ visions of creased socks, shortened 
trousers, and white legs, rose to his mind 
and thrilled it with unutterable dismay. 

But he was fairly started now, and of all 
his retainers, old Matthews had been the 
only one to administer a crumb of comfort. 

Bob, as already related, desired to ride 
Kingfisher, but Kingfisher's wounds were 
not yet healed, and Matthews had recom- 
mended a fine, upstanding bay in his place, 
named The Swell. 

" Is he a good 'an?" asked Bob with 
some curiosity. 

" Yes, sir, a ripper, particularly at timber. 


You can ride him with confidence. He has 
but one fault." 

" Any objection to stating it, 
Matthews ? " 

" No, sir, not in the least. He won't 
face w.'iter." 

" Oh ! won't he. The beggar ! Not even 
if he is made to ? " 

" Not even if he is made to," responded 
Matthews gravely. "The man who rode 
him last was not one to put up with any 
denial. 'Owever, we have so few brooks in 
these parts that The Swell's little peequli- 
arity don't so much signify." 

So Bob mounted his hunter and rode 

He was accustomed to horse exercise, 
and had constantly been in the liabit of 
galloping from one end of his farm to 
the other, but he was not accustomed to 
the easy paces and springy action of the 
animal he now for the first time bestrode. 


In ten minutes lie had forgotten all about 
the vexations with which his day had begun. 
As he entered a grass field, and let The 

Swell stride along over the ridge and furrow, 
he thought that in his whole life he had 
never experienced a more perfect and 
exhilaratino' sensation. 


He had decided to ride his hunter out to 
covert, the meet being within a couple of 
miles of Straightem Court. But short as 
was the distance, it proved sufficient to 
put him on good terms with The Swell, 
and inspire him with confidence in his 

As he trotted down along, straggly street, 
bordered on either side by small shops and 
unevenly built cottages, which went by the 
name of Morton village (the fixture for the 
day), and watched the women and children 
clustering round the doorways, a smile 
spread slowly over his countenance. 

Everything was new to him ; everything 


a source of interest, \voii(lerment or amuse- 

Unconscious of the fiat ^Yllich had gone 
forth against him in the names of Lord 
Littelbrane and General Prosieboy, he 
looked forward with keen delii^ht to his 
introduction to an English field and to a 
pack of well-bred, well-trained English 

Every nerve in his body was quivering 
with suppressed excitement. 

It seemed to him that surely this would 
prove a red-letter day in his life, ever 
to be looked back upon with gratifying 

Poor, foolish young man ! He had yet 
to learn that no pleasure equals the pleasure 
of anticipation — that joyous picturing of 
the imagination, which stern reality strips 
of its fancies, just as approaching winter 
strips the pretty many-coloured hedge- 



Of the natural stiffness of county gentle- 
men, tlieir reserve towards strangers, their 
curious reluctance to make fresh acquaint- 
ances, their distrust of every one who is 
not at least the friend of a friend, a scion 
of the aristocracy, or furnished with un- 
deniable credentials Bob knew absolutely 
nothing. Cliques and coteries were to him 
empty, meaningless words. 

Where he came from, such nice distinc- 
tions had not yet been introduced. 

He had a kind of an idea that people 
who went out hunting were all " hail 
fellow, well met " ; the sport united them in 
bonds of sympathy an 1 companionship ; 
the farmer was as gool as the lord, the 
TOL I. 9 


tradesman as the farmer. At least, such 
were Bob's notions. 

They showed how i;]^norant he was, and 
how extremely little he knew of the Morbey 
Anstead Hunt. Democratic views were 
sternly suppressed by that self-approving 
body of gentlemen known as the Mutual 

When Bob reached the end of the villac^e, 
he found the cottai]^es widened out on either 
side in order to inclose a small trianixular- 
shaped comxmon of about two acres in 
extent. Here, of a summer's evening, the 
lads assembled in great force, pitched their 
wickets and enjoyed a good game of cricket. 

Just now, the point of attraction proved 
to be a neat little whitewashed inn, over 
whose door huncf a lar^e and brilliantlv 
painted signpost. Its 3'ard was full of 
horses standing champing at their bits, 
or stamping restlessly as the groom in 
attendance tightened up the girths, pre- 


paratory to the mounting of liis master or 
mistress. The hounds had already arrived 
and were congregated on the grass, some 
rolling, some plajdng, some placidly waving 
their fine-pointed sterns to and fro. 

Burnett stood in their midst, mounted 
on a powerful, blood-like brown gelding, 
whilst the first whip occasionally made the 
lash of his hunting crop crack with a 
resounding noise, when an inquisitive 
hound, more excitable and less obedient 
than his comrades, ventured outside the 

The old ones, who knew w^hat they had 

come out for, were mostly sensible enough, 

but now and again, a youthful member of 

the establishment, possessing an active 

canine mind, would exhibit a propensity 

to make acquaintance with horses' legs, 

or sniff suspiciously at the knots of little 

sturdy boys and girls who stood watching 

the proceedings, half in fear, half in delight. 



Then the thonir descended on the 
offender's hind quarters, and sent him 
yelping back from whence he came, 
smarting under a sense of injury. Bob 
pulled up his horse, and watched these 
and similar incidents with keen interest. 
Nothing escaped him. He noticed the 
sleekness of the hounds' coats, and what 
an admirably matched lot they were. He 
looked down into the depths of their honest, 
wistful eyes, that appeared now yellow, now 
brown, now luminously red, according to 
how the sunlight fell upon them. 

Mongrels he had seen by the score ; but 
never such hounds as these. It was a 
delight to watch them ; each movement 
betrayed high pedigree. One sedate and 
curiously marked fellow particularly took 
his fancy. He was a very light hound, 
almost white, save for a few patches of tan, 
and he lay on the grass, as if determined 
not to distress himself until necessarv, with 



Lis noble head reposing contentedly on out- 
stretched paws, stained to a dark hue by 
the muddy roads along which he had 

" Is that a good hound ? " asked Bob of 
one of the whips. 

" The best killer in the pack, sir. He 
comes from Lord Lonsdale." 

And now people began to arrive from 
every quarter. The little common was 
dotted over with red coats, thrown up by a 
sprinkling of black. The sun shone out and 
made the brass buttons twinkle like miniature 
stars ; it cast a sheen on the horses' smooth 
coals, brinoino their stron?^ muscles into 
high relief, and lighting up the whole stir- 
ring and varied scene with its clear, genial 
rays. Overhead was a soft blue sky, across 
whose broad expanse of tender azure floated 
a few gossamer clouds, misty and white, 
their snowy purity contrasting vividly with 
the distant ether. 


Bob — who was naturally observant — 
thought that, taking? it altoi]^ether, he had 
never looked upon so goodl}^ a sight. 

He no longer wondered at the pride and 
enthusiasm Englishmen displayed when 
talking of fox-hunting. He could fully 
sympathize with their feelings. 

For even as he gazed at the bright array, 
a glow of exultation thrilled his veins. In 
fact, he was so absorbed by all he now saw 
for the first time, that he did not notice a 
small group of w^ell mounted, well-appointed 
men wdio had drawn near and were 
evidently criticizing the new-comer's 

Perhaps it was just as well that he 
escaped seeing the smiles of mingled 
indignation and contempt which disfigured 
their countenances, as they stood there 
and took stock of their fellow- creature. 

Luckily for Bob, it did not enter his 
head to imagine that he was furnishing 


subject of amusement. To tell tlie truth, 
he had clean forgotten all about those 
unfortunate elastic straps. The excitement 
of the moment had chased their memory 

Besides, he also was engaged in making 
mental observations, and had already 
taken a rapid survey of the assembled 

Some few elegant sportsmen he marked 
down in his mind's tablet as " real swaoff^^er 
chaps, regular out-and-out swells." 
Needless to say these were the Mutual 
Adorationites. Others again appeared to 
be good fellows, without an atom of 
" side." 

Yet, curiously enough, Bob's instinctive 
desire was to make acquaintance with the 
former rather than with the latter class. 
Chiefly because these extra-refined indi- 
viduals were rarities in his Colonial life, 
hitherto seldom met with ; and also 


because lie had a notion tLey pofefcCfcised a 
certain amount of originality and con- 
stituted a type altogether novel in his 
experiences. Perhaps, too, some inward 
consciousness whispered that they belonged 
to an entirely different order — the order to 
which, by his uncle's death, he ought now 
to aspire. No doubt they could teach him 
manners. For manners, above all, were 
what humble-minded Bob told himself he 
was sadly deficient in. His heart might be 
good, his sentiments irreproachable, but 
what was the use of that without fine old 
British polish? He was determined to 
lose no opportunity of acquiring it. 

Meantime, Lord Littelbrane gave the 
signal for a move to be made, and hounds 
were at once trotted off at a brisk pace to 
draw Neverblank Covert, whose name was 
suggestive of the good sport it invariably 

It lay on the slope of a hill, removed 


from roads and railways, and was situated 
in a scantily populated portion of the 
county. The strong, healthy gorse of 
which it was composed afforded a retreat 
dear to the vulpine race ; and dire was the 
disappointment if by any chance Never- 
blank failed to furnish a fox when called 
upon. As a rule, the chief difficulty 
consisted in dislodging the quarry ; for 
owing to the stoutness of the gorse, it was 
by no means an easy covert for hounds to 

But to-day they were fresh and eager, 
and in their ardour heeded not the stabs 
inflicted on their fine skins by the sharp- 
pointed prickles. By the end of fixe 
minutes no less than three foxes were 
viewed stealing across the rides. 

" Hoick, my beauties. Hoick, hoick at 
'em," called out Burnett encouragingly, in 
a mellow, resonant voice that could be 
heard from afar. 


Nevertheless, a considerable delay 
occurred, during wliicli our friend Bob was 
on the tip-toe of expectation. 

Once three or four young hounds 
appeared for a few minutes, and gave chase 
to a startled hare. Bob immediately joined 
in the pursuit, but to his intense dis- 
appointment, up rode the first whip and 
administered to the offenders such a 
punishment that they were only too glad 
to effect a retreat, their sense of guilt 
w^eighing heavily upon them. 

As for Bob, not being a hound, he was 
castigated by the human tongue instead of 
by the lash. To his consternation, he 
suddenly found himself addressed by a 
stout, white-haired, red faced, choleric- 
lookincT old ixcntleman, who at that 
moment bore a curious resemblance to an 
infuriated turkey-cock, thanks to the 
wobbling muscles of his purple throat. 

" God d n it, sir ! Where the devil 


are you going to ? " he roared out at the 
top of his voice, glaring fiercely at Bob 
with his small glittering eyes. 

" I thought we were going to have 
a run," answered the young man 

" The deuce you did, and pray," blankety 
blankety, blank — the reader's ear must not 
be offended by too faithful a repetition of 
the general's language — " what the dickens 
do you mean by encouraging Lord 
Littelbrane's hounds to run riot ? Eh ! 
answer me that question." And once 
more his flabby, pendulous throat became 

" I didn't intend to do anything wrong 
or against the rules," said Bob meekly. 
"But I fancied we were off." 

"05* I indeed. You seem to possess a 
lively fancy, sir ; rather too lively when 
combined with so very^' he laid a sneering 
emphasis on the word, " small knowledge 

HO A cj:ack county. 

of hunting. But youVe made a mistake, 
let me tell you. The Morbey Anstead 
don't go in for teaching beginners how to 
hunt. You had far better try some other 
pack, for we,' — oh ! the importance, the 
majesty and superiority contained in that 
word — " expect people to behave them- 
selves when they come out with us." 

This speech angered Bob not a little ; 
still with an effort he stifled his wrath. He 
had no wish to enter into a quarrel, but more 
especially did he dislike squabbling with 
a man so many years his senior. He deter- 
mined to try the effect of a soft answer. 

" I beg pardon," he said quietly but 
firmly. " I had no idea that I had com- 
mitted so gross a breach of etiquette as, 
according to you, I unfortunately appear 
to have done." 

But General Prosieboy was not one to 
be easily appeased. After the conversation 
which had taken place between himself and 


Lord Littelbrane lie felt as if liis pprsonal 
honour were at stake, and that he was 
bound, not only as a gentleman, but also 
as a M.A., to crush Bob down to the very 
ground. If his opponent had flown into a 
temper he would have been more at ease. 
The young man's humble, yet at the same 
time manly, manner was just a trifle 
disconcerting. He must not let his rage 

" Damnation, sir," he retorted irately. 
" You had no idea, indeed ! Pray what 
excuse is that ? None, none whatever. It 
cannot be permitted that you should ruin 
our hounds and spoil our day's sport. 
People have no right to come out hunting 
with a pack like the Morbey Anstead when 
they don't even know the difference between 
a fox and a hare." 

Bob reddened. The speaker's manner 
was so intentionally offensive that he 
realized at last that this foul-tongued old 


gentleman was deliberately setting to work 
to insult liim. He was a liigli-spirited 3'oung 
fellow, and having once arrived at this 
conclusion, no longer made any efTort to 
conceal his indignation. 

•'Will you be good enough to tell me 
who you are and what your name is ? " he 
inquired with considerable heat. 

Blankety— blank. " What's that to you ?" 
replied the general. 

" A great deal. I wish to know if you 
are authorized to keep the Field in order, 
and for what purpose you disgrace yourself 
by usinc: bad lan^-uaize." 

" Damn it, sir. Do you mean to tell me 
that you question my authority and wish 
to know my name ? " 

" You have guessed my desire correcth'." 

*' By gad ! sir, I'm not ashamed of it," 
returned the other excitedly. " It's Trosie- 
bo}^ General Frosieboy." 

" A very applicable name, no doubt," 


said Bob, with a sarcasm he could not re- 
frain from. 

" And as for my authority," continued 
the general, treating this remark with the 
contempt it deserved, and inflating himself 
like a balloon filled full of pride instead of 
gas, " you need be under no apprehension 
about that. I am Lord Littelbrane's most 
intimate friend, and every action of mine 
invariably meets with his concurrence." 

On such an occasion, when he was 
fighting the battles of the whole sacred 
body of Mutual Adorationites, General 
Prosieboy's conscience told him. that it was 
a gallant and virtuous thing to draw the 
long bow. The young man had to be sup- 
pressed and squashed. At present he 
showed no sii]fns of submission. 

"I presume tlien," said Bob, with a 
twinkle in his eye, for General Prosieboy's 
grandiose manner had an irresistibly comic 
effect upon him, " that his lordship is by 


no means particular with whom he asso- 
ciates and has not an easily ofiended ear." 

And so saying Bob galloped off at full 
speed, for a loud " gane forrard awa-ay " 
rang through the air, repeating itself in 
many sounding echoes. This time the fox 
really took to his heels, and he, Bob, had 
not a moment to lose. 

General Prosieboy stood for a second 
and looked after him. Then he shook his 
head doubtingly. 

" He ought to be settled — he ought to be 
settled," he- muttered three or four times 
over in tones full of anxiety and dissatis- 
faction. " And yet " with an oath, 

" I'm not sure that he is. Mr. Eobert P. 
Jarrett is just about as tough a customer 
as I've come across for a lon^ time. How- 
ever, if he feels inclined to show fight I'll 
have another shy at him by-andbye." 
Whereupon he clapped spurs to his horse 
and rode off for the nearest road. 



" Well I'm blowed," said Bob to liimself, 
as The Swell glided over the pastures with 
his long, smooth stride. " That old cove's 
boots and breeches were perfection, and yet 
I wonder if he is a specimen of the sport- 
ing gentleman. If so, they must be an 
uncommonly queer lot." 

But General Prosieboy soon vanished 
from his thoughts, for the hounds were 
straight ahead, running hard and mute, 
whilst the Field were already split up into 
half-a-dozen different divisions. The Swell, 
too, was pulling like one not accustomed 
to the indignity of seeing many of his own 
species in advance of him. Bob let him go, 
vol. I. 10 


heiuix also anxious to ^et to the front as 
quickly as possible. 

Altlion£(h, thanks to his recent encoun- 
ter, he had not been particularly fortunate 
in securing a start, he soon made the 
pleasing discovery that, owing to the extra- 
ordinary speed of his horse, he was only 
cantering when others were galloping, and 
before very long he succeeded in joining 
the leading horsemen. 

This 230sition contented him, and he 
resolved if possible to maintain it. As 
before stated, he was accustomed to riding, 
and what he wanted in judgment he made 
up in " pluck " and dash. Although The 
Swell missed the delicate handlini]^ — the 
artistic lenc^tlicninc^ and shorteninc: of the 
reins to which he had grown accustomed 
when carrying his late master — he quickly 
ascertained that his present one was not to 
be denied. The good hunter's desire was 
to be where he could see the hounds. liob*s 


wishes were identical, and as he had the 
sense to leave The Swell pretty well alone 
at his fences, they got on better than might 
have been expected. 

They had already flown some six or 
seven obstacles and had established a 
friendly communication. Bob's spirits rose 
almost to the ecstatic pitch. His heart 
beat fast. Through his veins ran a warm 
glow that pervaded his whole frame and 
rendered him, for the time being, insen- 
sible to danger. Up to this point the 
fencing had been comparatively easy. But 
now they came to a narrow gap, blocked 
entirely by a huge fallen tree. 

The leaders pulled up and looked at it 
dubiously. Somebody even suggested 
dismounting and trying to force the 
stubborn branch3s aside. Bob laughed in 
his sleeve. This was the species of jump 
with which he was most familiarized. That 
bare, brown trunk, with its spreadhig 



stems shooting between four and five feet 
in the air, had no terrors for him. 

He gave The Swell a touch of the spurs. 
No, to be correct, it was more than a touch. 
He intended the application to be of the 
gentlest possible nature, but somehow the 
rowels remained fixed in the animal's sides 
and the next moment they were over, 
though not without a scramble. 

Still, he had shown these hard-riding 
Morbey Anstead gentlemen that the thing 
was possible to jump, and before many 
seconds had gone by he was joined by 
Burnett. At length, after the branches 
had been considerably beaten down, several 
other Nimrods hardened their hearts, whilst 
the timid went off in search of a gate. 

Lord Littelbrane was one of those who 
had viewed Bob's performance. 

" He's a deuce of a fellow to ride, that 
nephew of Straightem's," he observed to 
General Broi^iebov, as the road division 


joined them. " A deuce of a fellow, thougli 
he knows nothing whatever about it." 

•' I'll tell you what he can do as well," 
said the general with venomous animation. 

" What's that ? " inquired his lordship 

" Talk. He'd talk a dog's hind leg 
off. Take my advice, my lord, and don't 
give him the chance of getting in a 

'^ I don't mean to." 

" That's right. I had a tussle with 
him this morning, and he's simply im- 
possible. Much more so even than I 

" Did you give it to him, Squasher ? " 

" I did," responded the general grimly. 
*^ But he's not had enough yet. He is one 
of those gentlemen who require a second 

" One is enough as a rule, is it not ? " 
said his lordship, with a faint smile. 


" It is, but I shall take care to make 
number two a very great many degrees 

Meanwhile, Bob was superlatively happy. 
Every j^ard that the fox continued running 
he became increasingly alive to the merits 
of the animal he bestrode. No wonder, 
then, he was pleased, for it takes such a 
combination of qualities to make a good 
hunter. A sin^^le one <]foes for so little. The 
fencing is of no use without the speed, or 
the speed without the staying, and even 
then, bad manners will often destroy 
the whole. In short, a horse who pos- 
sesses every desideratum is almost as 
hard to find as a pretty woman destitute 
of vanity, or an ugl}- one who is not 

Fence after fence The Swell threw behind 
him without a mistake. There are few 
sensations more delii^htful than beariuor 
down on a good Lio- i lace, fn-dinir vour 


horse come at it exactly in his stride, and 
feehng b}^ intuition before he takes off that 
you are safe to get over well. 

Tlie Swell was fresh and in an extra 
good humour. So far, nothing had 
occurred to put him out. The ditches 
were dry and no gleam of obaoxious water 
offended his eye. Bob's confidence increased 

Thirty glorious minutes — minutes full of 
concentrated enjoyment — had elapsed since 
the fox broke covert. But the pace had 
burst him, and he now held out signals of 
distress. Burnett's sharp eyes spied him 
stealing wearil}^ down a hedge-row, carry- 
ing his brush low and his head outstretched, 
yet with every faculty intent on making 
his escape. 

But how to get into the same field ? 

The fence that surrounded it was abso- 
lutely unjumpable. It consisted of a huge 
bullfinch, black as Erebus, some eight or 


ten feet in height and hordered on either 
side by a stiff ox raiL 

The boldest Kimrod present recognized 
that it would be sheer lunacy to attempt 
such a leap. There was but one means of 
ingress, namely, through a five-barred gate, 
but this proved to be securely chained and 
padlocked. With the smallest possible 
delay a couple of horsemen dismounted and 
endeavoured to take the gate off its hinges. 
No, it would not yield an inch. The 
assembled group were done. They stood 
looking at the timber barrier in dismay, 
whilst hounds burst into a bloodthirsty 
chorus and raced across the green sward. 
Burnett cursed the fate that had mounted 
him on a horse bad at rails. He hesitated 
and his companions hesitated too. Even 
in the far-famed Shires, a five-barred gate 
is a thing not often jumped, but it is done 
sometimes, and generally either by a well- 
known bruiser or else by a complete 


novice There was one novice present 
who felt desperate, and who moreover was 
in a state of such intense physical ecstasy 
as rendered him impervious to fear. 

" Make way," he called out excitedly. 
And then he rode resolutely at the gate. 

For a brief second, The Swell did not 
seem altogether certain whether his rider 
were in earnest. The next, reassured by 
that subtle electric current which surely 
exists between man and horse and speech- 
lessly communicates to each, the other's 
intention, he cocked his small ears and 
gathered himself well together. 

Then with a powerful twist of his hind 
quarters, he flung over the gate, just tap- 
ping it lightly with one hoof, and landed 
safely on the other side. It was both high 
and stiff, and Bob, conscious of the difficulty 
of the jump, cast a hasty backward glance 
to see who intended following in his wake. 
But nobody showed any disposition to 


emulate his example, especially as the lead- 
ing hounds were already beginning to 

Lord Littelbrane watched Bob's per- 
formance in silence. If there was one 
thing he respected more than another it 
was courage ; perhaps because he sus- 
pected a deficiency of that quality in his 
own nature, althouoh nothing would have 
induced him to admit the fact. Somethini^ 
very like a tear gathered in his dull blue 

He turned away, and as he did so, almost 
came into collision with General Prosieboy. 

" Prosieboy," he said mournfully, " I 
have never felt the loss of poor, dear Harry 
so much as at this moment. We have 
nobodv left to ride for us now." 


" Why, my lord ! What's the matter ? " 
"The matter!" he replied in tones of 
indescribable miserv. " That terrible 


person " — a shudder went through his 


delicate frame — " that nephew of Harry's, 
has just jumped a five-barred gate and cut 
us all down." 

" The devil he has ! Well, I'm not sur- 
prised to hear it. He's mad enough for 

" Yes, but not another man dared follow. 
Even Burnett turned away." 

" And quite right, too," said General 
Prosieboy, who was by no means an 
advocate of riskincf one's neck throuMi the 
taking of hazardous leaps. 

" It's a shameful thing to let this Colonial 
fellow take the shine out of all our best 
men," returned Lord Littelbrane. Then, 
with an unwonted burst of emotion, he 
added : " Oil ! Harry, Harry, dear old man; 
this would never have happened had you 
still been in the land of the living. The 
glory of the Morbey Anstead has departed." 

After clearin<]f the five- barred crsitc as 
related, Bob experienced a few moments of 


triumphant elation ; lie leant forward and 
patted The Swell's bright, slender bay- 
neck. But before many minutes his elation 
changed to dismay. 

First, he was a little disconcerted at 
finding himself entirely alone. Second, he 
was not altogether certain how to proceed, 
and third, he perceived that the hounds 
had turned sharp back. The last circum- 
stance was the m.ost annoying of the three. 
For, as there was but one way into the 
field, so was there but one way out, and 
that the same. 

Now it is one thinir to charf]^e a 
danfTerous obstacle when the fury of the 
chase is upon you, when your blood is 
heated to ahnost fever pitch, and dozens 
of critical eyes are watching your per- 
formance , but it is a verv different affair 
having to retrace your footsteps in solitude, 
perhaps doubting the wisdom of your 
action in the first instance. It is astonish- 


ing under such circumstances liow much 
bigger the original leap looks. 

As so often happens out hunting, it 
proved a case of the timid finding them- 
selves better off than the brave. The 
former were now in the same field with 
the hounds. 

Bob alone was separated from them. 
He glanced at the gate. There was no 
other possible mode of joining his com- 
panions. It looked horribly big, and to 
make matters worse, the take-off was now 
slightly up-hill, and indented by hoof- 
marks of cattle. He saw that he must 
not give himself time to think. If the 
thing were to be done at all, it must be 
done at once. 

But perhaps what decided him was the 
sight of the noble master and his choleric 
old friend staring at him from their point of 
vantage with evident amusement. 

He resolved to fall rather than let him- 


self be laughed at by tliem, and sure 
enough, fall he did. The Swell made a 
gallaut elTort, but he tripped over some 
uneven ground just as he took off, and 
hitting the gate hard with both fore-legs, 
turned a complete somersault. Bob was a 
little shaken, but not really hurt, and soon 
recovered from the shock. lie did not 
mind the disaster one bit ; but what did 
get his monkey up, was seeing those two 
stuck-up, stand-oif men close by never offer 
to i>ive liim the least assistance. He 
thought it downright ungentlemanly of 
them, and felt their conduct very keenly ; 
especially as he overheard General Prosie- 
boy say scoffmgly : 

" Ha, ha ! Tried to show of! once too 
often. Glad he found out his mistake." 

The other nodded his colourless head, 
and then they rode away together. 

But if the Mutual Adorationites were 
not kind, others were. 

CUTTING them: ALL DOWN. 159 

A jolly, good-natured farmer immediately 
rushed to the rescue, saying admiringly : 

" Gad, sir ! But that was a gallant 
jump of yours, and a real nasty one into 
the bargain ; I hope you are none the 
worse for the roll ? '' 

" Not in the least, thank you," said Bob, 
beginning to recover from the annoyance 
occasioned by Lord Littelbrane's and 
General Prosieboy's conduct. " And for- 
tunately the horse is not injured either. 
At least, as far as I can judge." 

" Ah ! That's lucky, for he's a good 'un. 
Many's the time I have seen the late 
Captain Straightem ride him to hounds." 

" By-the-by," said Bob, '•' perhaps you 
can tell me who that small, fair-haired, 
drab faced man is, speaking to General 

The farmer looked in the direction indi- 

" That ! " he said, as if astonished at his 


companion's ignorance. " Oh ! that is Lord 

" I thought so, responded Bob. " What 
sort of a fellow is he ? " 

" That's rayther a difficult question for 
me to answer, sir, seeing as how I am one 
of his lordship's principal tenants." 

But Bob had already discovered what he 
wanted to know from the man's manner. 

" Never mind," he said ; " I understand. 
If a question is difficult to answer, nine 
times out of ten it answers itself." 

" You're uncommon sharp, sir," said his 

"Think so?" said Bob. "Not sharp 
enough, I am afraid, to pick up good 
manners from your English gentleman." 

With which enio^matical remark, beimi 
now fairly mounted, he rode olT to rejoin 
the hounds, who were already a couple of 
fields distant. 



Bob urged The Swell to his speed and soon 
overtook the pack. He reached them in 
the nick of time, for this good, bold fox, 
finding himself sorely pressed, after dodging 
round some farm premises to regain his 
lost wind, once more faced the open, in 
hopes of gaining Amberside Hill, some two 
or three miles further on. 

The gallant fellow put on a desperate 
spurt. He knew it was the last of which 
he was capable. The country was strong 
and thickly fenced. For another ten 
minutes the fun continued fast and furious. 

As if anxious to wipe out the indignity 
of a fall. The Swell jumped brilliantly, and 
completely re-established the high opinion 

VOL. I. 11 


he had hitherto held in the estimation of 
his rider. Such glorious excitement soon 
made I>ob for£Tet his resentment a^^ainst 
Lord Littelbrane and General Prosieboy. 
He felt on good terms with all mankind, 
himself and his horse in particular. 

For the hounds were in full cry now, 
pursuing the failing quarry with wide-open 
jaws, red hanging tongues, gleaming eyes, 
and upright bristles. Onl}- one more field 
separated poor Pug from Amberside Hill. 
His foes were bent on pulling him down 
before he reached it. He was equally deter- 
mined to baffle them. It meant life to him — 
only a mouthful of unsavoury food to them. 

But though he toiled on gamely, he was 
now in full view, and the baying of the 
hounds and the yelling of his human 
enemies served still further to terrify and 
dishearten him. He just managed to creep 
through the last fence dividinc^ the road 
from Amberside Hill, and lay down panting 


in the ditch, where, hidden by dead brown 
leaves and yellow edisli, his body was 
almost undiscernible. If by this ruse he 
could but gain a few moments, then he 
might steal into the covert and seek the 
shelter of a friendly earth. His calcula- 
tions proved correct, for one by one the 
eager hounds flashed over him and disap- 
peared in the wood beyond. 

Excited by the prospect of a near finish 
to so good a run, every horseman was on 
his mettle. They did not heed the stiff 
top-binder that ran through the fence, but 
charged it in a dozen different places. 

Crash ! crash ! and two sportsmen bit 
the dust simultaneously, rolling into the 
road more forcibly than pleasantly. 

Bob got over all right, and hearing the 

noise of falling bodies, turned to see who 

the unfortunates were. To his surprise, he 

perceived that the one nearest to him was 

no less a personage than General Prosieboy, 



who inspired by the universal enthusiasm, had 
for once ventured on so formidable a leap. 

He was a stout man and a heavy, and he 
did not fall easily. Few people do when 
they weigh over fifteen stone and have 
passed sixty years of age. For several 
seconds he lay immovable. Perhaps he 
was more frightened than hurt, but anyhow 
the sight of his white hairs mingling with 
the dust filled Bob with a sentiment of 

" Good for evil," he said to himself ; and 
in another minute he was olT his horse and 
liftino; the <][eneral from the oTound. He 
wiped him clean, caught his hunter, and 
finally — when he had ascertained that no 
great damage had been inflicted — helped 
him to remount. 

All this time General Prosieboy spoke 
not a word. He accepted the attentions 
bestowed as if they were his due. At last 
he gathered up his reins and prepared to 


move on. At that moment, Bob, seized by 
a sudden desire for reconciliation, and also 
prompted by his good-natured Australian 
hospitality, looked up at the great M.A. 
with a pair of honest, pleading brown eyes, 
and said : 

" Hullo ! old chap. Don't you think you 
and I might just as well be friends ? " 

To do the general justice, taken by 
surprise, for one single moment he relented. 

Perhaps Bob saw the softened expression 
of his face, for he continued, in tones of 
greater confidence : " I'm all alone, and 
deuced dull I find it. We have not been 
formally introduced to each other, but what 
do you say to coming and taking ' pot luck ' 
with me this evening at Straightem Court ? 
Eh?" And as he spoke, he settled one of 
the general's gouty old feet in the stirrup. 

But that gentleman, ashamed of his 
momentary weakness, and indignant with 
himself for having experienced it, recovered 


from any temporary feeling of softness. 
He now con.sidere(l it incumbent upon him 
to be doubly severe and repulsive in order 
to atone for the lapse of dignity, which 
owing to peculiar conditions, had unfortu- 
nately already taken place. He must not 
let the enemy see that there was any joint 
in his armour. 

Consequently he drew himself up in his 
saddle, protruded his chest, and fixing his 
cold, gimlet-like eye on the audacious 
Bob, said in a solemnly frigid voice, as 
if his feelings were outraged beyond de- 
scription : 

" Young man, I make a point of 72ever 
dining with persons whose acquaintance I 
have not had the pleasure of making in a 
proper and orthodox manner. The fact is, 
there are so many outsiders come to hunt 
with these hounds that it is impossible to 
be too particular. Under these circum- 
stances I must decline the honour of taking 


' pot luck ' with one who is a complete 
stranger to me and likely to remain so." 

So saying, and without uttering a single 
word of thanks for kindness received, he 
trotted off to a field close by, into which 
poor Eeynard's body had been dragged, 
and was there undergoing the final obse- 
quies. Despite every shift, his murderers 
had found him out. 

Bob could only i^aze after the general in 
speechless amazement. 

" Darned old fool ! " he exclaimed at last, 
with a burst of irrepressible wrath. 

And yet there was something comic 

about the ancient warrior's behaviour too. 

It was so very very small, and displayed so 

lamentably narrow a mind. Angry as he 
felt at his insolence. Bob could hardly 

suppress a smile. 

But how about these celebrated English 

manners, whose delicacy, refinement, and 

true politeness he had so often heard 

168 ' A CEACK COU^iTY. 

quoted at head-quarters? Were these 
them ? 

Why, out in the bush, if one man be- 
haved to another man in so gross and 
insolent a fashion, no name would be con- 
sidered bad enough for him. But then, 
on the other hand, the offer of a good 
dinner did not come as often over there 
as it did here. Perhaps that fact made all 
the difference. 

But reason it out as he might. Bob had 
received a tremendous shock. All his pre- 
conceived notions had been subjected to 
severe disillusion, an operation which 
"whenever it takes place always leaves a 
feeling of soreness and blankness behind. 

He had been so humble and diffident, so 
ready to learn of all the Englishmen he 
came across, simply because they possessed 
the inestimable advantage of bein^ English- 
men ; and now he thought that he himself 
had more polish than they. He might be 


rough, blunt, outspoken, but he would 
have been ashamed to treat a fellow- 
creature as Lord Littelbrane and General 
Prosieboy had treated him. 

It took him much longer this time to 
recover from his disappointment and in- 
dignation, and during the process he did 
not attempt to speak to a soul ; in fact, 
after his experiences of the morning, he 
laid it down as a rule, so long as he 
remained in England, not to address a 
single person until overtures had first been 
made to him. He would be on the safe 
side, at any rate, and not expose himself to 
any more insults and rebuffs. But circum- 
stances defeated this intention, and pre- 
vented him from putting it into execution. 

Whilst jogging on to get to the next 
covert, the whole Field had to pass through 
a series of nasty little, awkward bridle- 
gates, that flew to, almost as soon as they 
were opened. Bob, being mortal and a 


man, had before now noticed a very pretty, 
smart-looking, little woman, attired in a 
scarlet jacket, a white waistcoat, and a 
glossy hat, from beneath which her small 
coquettish face peeped out very alluringly. 
An incident now took place that shocked 
all his sense of chivalry. No less than 
three gentlemen in succession pushed by, 
and allowed one of these gates to slam 
upon this lady, thereby preventing her 
from gettinof throuirh and hurtino; her hand 
as she stretched it out in self-defence. 

The very sight made Bob indignant. 
There was somethinc^ so currish and un- 
manly about the proceeding to his mind, 
especially when there was not even the 
excuse of hounds runninix hard. He 
darted forward, held the gate open, and 
although several other men availed them- 
selves of his courtesy, insisted on the lady 
passing through before he relaxed his hold. 

So natural did this action appear to him. 


that he was quite astonished to find her 
waiting for him on the other side. 

" Thank you so much," she said in a 
clear, cheery voice. " It was awfully good 
of you letting me take your turn." 

" Please don't mention such a trifle," he 
said in reply. " Anybody would have 
done it." 

She shrugged her shoulders, and shot an / 

inquiring glance in his direction. 

" Are you well acquainted with the 
Morbey Anstead ? " 

" No, this is the first time I have been 
out with them." 

Lady De Fochsey — for it was she — smiled, 
and leaning confidentially towards Bob, said : 

" You are Mr, Jarrett, are you not. Cap- 
tain Straightem's nephew ? " 

" Yes, how did you know ? " 

" Never mind, perhaps I guessed. Tell 
me, are the ladies in your part of the 
world better treated than tliey are here ? " 


" From what I have seen in your case, I 
should say, most certainly," said Bob em- 

"Ah ! don't waste your indignation. 
The Morbey Anstead females do not expect 
to be made a fuss with ; if they are tole- 
rated it is all they can hope for. You see 
the men think such a tremendous lot of 
themselves, that it is impossible for them 
to think much of anybody else." 

" So it appears," said Bob grimly. " You 
have hit it off exactly." 

" Do you know," and she cast a side-long 
glance at him, " the highest compliment I 
have ever received from an M.A. was to be 
told, I was not in the way. Don't you 
think a woman ought to feel immensely 
flattered by such a speech? Ilowever well 
she may ride, however pretty she may be to 
look at, and nice to talk to, her highest 
reward is ' not in the way.' " And her 
ladyship burst into a little sarcastic laugh. 


"Do you mean to tell me that such a 
saying is meant for praise ? " asked Bob. 

" Yes," she answered demurely, " from a 
Mutual Adorationite : very high praise." 

" I don't quite understand the phrase ; 
what does ' Mutual Adorationite ' mean ? " 

" I won't explain, because it would take 
too long, and you so soon will find out for 
yourself. But to return to our sex. When 
gates out hunting are small, gentlemen in a 
hurry, ladies numerous, the latter go to the 
wall. They always do, all through life, for 
the simple reason that of all animals, man 
is the most animal, and the most selfish, 
woman the weakest, and the least 

" I am sorry you should think so badly 
of us," said Bob. 

"I do not think badly of you,'' she 
replied, letting her limpid blue eyes rest 
full upon him. " You exerted your 
strength in my behalf." 


To her surprise he made no immediate 
answer. To tell the truth, lie was a little 
taken aback. Being flattered by a pretty 
woman was a novel experience. 

" What are vou thinkiniTf about ? " she 
inquired a trifle pettishly. " You seem as 
if you had not heard what I said." 

" You must excuse my apparent inatten- 
tion, Miss " and Bob stopped short, for 

he had not an idea whether his companion, 
were wife, wudow, or maid. 

She laughed outritrht. 

" Xo, I am not a Miss, tliough you 
evidently seem to think that I ought to be 
one. My name is Lady de Fochsey.'' Then 
she looked at Bob, and told herself he was 
very w^ ell- favoured, and added softl}-, 
" widow of the late Sir Jonathan." 

There could be no harm in letting him 
know that she was free to wed again, if so 

Besides, she liked young men. Old 


ones were so dreadfully prosy, and 
always luould talk of themselves. There 
was a manly strength about Bob, combined 
with an honesty and good-huraour of 
countenance, which she altogether approved 
of, even although his clothes were not 
exactly what they might be. But being 
a woman and he a man, she was inclined to 
regard this defect leniently, whereas if Bob 
had belonged to the same sex as herself, 
every article of costume would have been 
severely criticized. But ladies are nearly 
always kinder to gentlemen than to other 
ladies, and vice-versd. 

"Thv3 fact is," said Bob explanatorily, 
" whilst you were speaking, I was guilty of 
the rudeness of making comparisons 
between your country and mine." 
" May I ask with what result ? " 
" Certainly. I came to the conclusion 
that our men would go simply wild over a 
pretty woman," Lady De Fochsey smiled 


encouragingly, and Bob, surprised at his 
own hardihood, added, " like yourself, for 
instance. Whilst over here, from all 
accounts, she is not half appreciated at her 
true value." 

" Oh, yes ! " she said, with a twinkle in 
her eye. "We are appreciated after a 
eertain brutal fashion, but not in the 
chivalrous, Homeric way, of which you 
seem a regular champion." 

" Chivalrous ! Homeric ! " echoed Bob, 
a trifle puzzled. " I'm afraid I'm rather 
dull of comprehension.'* 

" Very. Let me put my meaning 
clearer. Well, then, in Merry England, 
the pattern of philanthrophy and civiliza- 
tion, we are regarded in one of two lights. 
Either we are pretty creatures, fatted and 
kept sleek at our lord's pleasure, or else we 
are beasts of burden, who have to do all 
the hard work, and get none of the credit ; 
who screw and save at home, whilst 


monsieur mon mari cuts a figure in the 
world, and spends all the money on 
amusing himself. " Oh, yes ! I know." 
And she pouted her full lips in a 
provocative manner. 

"No one could associate you with the 
beast of burden," said Bob, growing bolder 
as her ladyship became more gracious. 

She laughed airily and changed the 

" Come," she said, giving her horse a 
touch of her heel, " tliose tiresome hounds 
are nearly out of sight. We must be 
movinnf on." 

Whereupon they put their respective 
steeds into a canter, but Lady De Fochsey's 
chestnut was completely outpaced by The 
Swell, and further conversation was there- 
fore carried on under difficulties. Just 
then her ladyship spied Lord Littelbrane a 
little way ahead. 

" Good-bye, for the present," she called 

VOL I. 12 


out, " come and sse me soon. Any one 
will tell you where I live. Your aboriginal 
ideas are as interesting to me as, it is to be 
hoped, my English ones are to you."' And 
she waved the tip of her fingers. 

Whereupon Bob rode on, considering he 
had had his dismissal, and consoling himself 
by thinking it really did not so much matter 
what the men were like, when the ladies 
were so very, very charming, and so entirely 
free from all stiirness and ceremon3^ 

As for calling, of course he should call, 
and only too thankful for the chance. 

She was undeniably pretty, although 
after the first flutter of excitement had 
passed, he told himself that, in spite of her 
ladyship's charms, she was not altogether 
"his style." 

She wanted something. He was not quite 
sure what ; but he fancied it was soul. 

It was very pleasant, having agreeable 
things said to one, but then the pleasant- 


ness was in some degree diminislied if you 
were not quite certain of the speaker's 
sincerity, and could imagine her making the 
same pretty little speeches to every man of 
her acquaintance. After the reception he 
had met with, it was extremely ungrateful 
of Bob to harbour such ideas, yet they 
occurred to his mind almost involuntarily. 

Some inward voice seemed to warn him, 
that however much he might be captivated 
by Lady De Fochsey, he should never find 
in her the ideal woman, with whom some 
day he hoped to pass his life in perfect 
sympathy and community of spirit. 

All the same, he was flattered by the 
notice she had taken of him. Besides, she 
was the first person, excepting Farmer 
Jackson, who had spoken to him in a frank 
and friendly fashion. She had lifted the 
sense of isolation that had gradually 
stolen over his spirit, and he felt more able 
now to put up with sneers and insults. 




Lady De Fochsey had many admirers. 
Amongst their number it was not often she 
encountered one who had the keen insii^ht 
to look beyond a pretty, superficial surface 
and seek to gauge the depths or shallows 
of her real character. 

Hers was not an uncommon type of 
womanhood. A type that fluctuates 
between the good and the bad, and is con- 
tinually being attracted and repulsed first 
by one, then the other. Stability is difficult 
to arrive at under such circumstances, and 
scarcely to be looked for. "Without will- 
]M)U'er, that much talked of thing, the 
human soul is but a poor vapid affair. 


Lady de Foclisey was frivolous, and yet 
not conscious of her frivolity ; artificial to 
a degree, but not purposely or intentionally 
SD. Her nature was light, facile, variable, 
and, unfortunately for herself, it possessed 
certain dramatic instincts, which all through 
life made her seek for and delight in 
" situations." As an actress she might 
have made a reputation, since as a woman 
she never could, refrain from actinij^. She 
meant no harm by it. It was only imagin- 
ing the worldj a stage and she the player. 
Occasionally some of her parts fitted in 
very well. They did produce an effect. 
At other times thay failed, and then of 
course the player was abused and called a 
" humbug," if not worse. 

And yet, in the real sense of the word, 
Lady de Foclisey was not a humbug. 
She was true to the instincts implanted 
within her. That they were changeable, 
capricious, ever striving after sensation, 


was perhaps more her misfortune than her 
fault. It is not given to all women to be 
strong and simple, to see the follies of their 
sex, and as much as possible stand aloof 
from them. There must be butterflies, even 
if their pretty wings are frail and liable to 
be smirched and stained. 

Lady de Fochsey's conversation was 
bright and by the majority all the more 
appreciated from the fact of its containing 
no depth whatever. With her pretty face 
and neat figure, few ever noticed if she 
floundered a bit whenever the more serious 
topics of the day were mentioned, or got 
hopelessly muddled if by any chance 
the sciences and ologics were touched 

What did it matter ? Women were 
made to be amusing, not clever. Nobody 
wanted them to be cleverer than the men 
— it was only upsetting the long-established 
order of things, which worked so satis- 


factorily for the male portion of crea- 
tion. It is so easy to starve another per- 
son's intellect and then say, " You are a 
fool," and so hard for the person thus 
treated to disprove the assertion. Many 
women now-a-days want a chance given 
them — a chance of enlarging their educa- 
tion and proving the real grit of which 
they are made. Lady De Fochsey had no 
such ambition. She would rather lead up to 
an emotional situation with a man, very 
human, very weak, and if a little erring so 
much the better, than aspire to the highest 
knowledge. She liked experimentalizing 
and finding: out what chords and combina- 
tions could be wrum? from the masculine 

About the female one she troubled her- 
self very little, except in her own individual 

She considered that her duty in the world 
was to smile graciously, make full use of 


her china-blue eyes, pay little insincere 
compliments and by so doing get herself 
talked about as " a charming woman." 

This duty she fulfilled admirably, though 
it must be admitted she possessed more 
allies amongst the men than amongst the 

Taken as a general rule, the hunting- 
field is not a sphere calculated to develop 
the exchange of many intellectual ideas. 
When pursuing the fox, her ladyship was 
in her element. 

To have a train of young men, no matter 
how vapid they might be, always dangling 
about her habit- skirt, rendered her su- 
premely happy. The more the happier. 
It was a delight to count them up ; a real 
grief to find that one had escaped from his 
allegiance. She called them her " tame 
cats," and was perpetually getting up pretty 
little scenes with them, that would have 
been an ornament to any private theatricals. 


Act the first was invariably : " Charming 
woman — love at first siu^ht." Act the 
second — " Quarrel. Charming woman 
misunderstood." Act the third — " Grand 
reconciliation. Charming^ woman more 
charming than ever." Sometimes, however, 
but never when she could help it, there 
was a fourth act — " Break away of cap- 
tive, charming woman in despair — con- 
founded at hearino: herself abused." 

It is astonishing how many varieties 
this little play was capable of. The chief 
actor never seemed to tire, but derived 
fresh amusement from every rehearsal. 

All were fish that came to Lady De Foch- 
sey's net. She welcomed Bob as a new 
admirer, partly because she was already 
prepossessed in his favour by the episode 
of the gate, and partly owing to her own 
peculiar ideas of true love. 

She was always in search of true love, 
yet curiously enough had never found it. 


When slie married the late Sir Jonathan, 
fat, red and wealthy, twenty years older 
than herself, she was persuaded the grande 
fassion had come at last. It hadn't. 

Two years of matrimony completely did 
away with the illusion as far as the baronet 
was concerned. Query : — Would she have 
entertained it if he had not had twelve 
thousand a year ? 

When Sir Jonathan died, Lady De Foch- 
sey did not weep her eyes out. After a 
decent interval — it was scarcely more — she 
recovered from her grief. 

And now ! behold the beautiful con- 
fidence of the female nature. She was so 
romantic, so trustful and enthusiastic, that 
she firmly believed there was no reason, 
because one man had failed to answer her 
expectations, why another should do the 

She had now been a widow for five 
years, was twenty-eight years of age, and 


began to feel a trifle disappointed with 
herself, for not havino- succeeded in fallins^ 
in love. 

She was puzzled why the grande passion 
did not arrive. She had done her best to 
foster it, by reading all sorts of novels of 
the ardent, consuming, soul-too-big-for- the- 
body type. If anything could have kindled 
the required spark such literature ought to 
have proved successful. 

It heljDed a little, but only a little, for 
the provoking part of it was, that noble 
and high-flown as were the theories pro- 
pounded, they did not work well when 
applied to practical life. There was always 
a hitch somewhere. 

The Byronic young man with dark pas- 
sionate eyes, hollow cheeks and wondrous 
magnetic power over all the women with 
whom he came in contact — the young man 
who cared nothing for material comforts, 
who disdained luxury, and did not even 


care for a good dinner, was not to be found 
now-a-days. The type was dying out, and 
every year became more scarce. Lady 
De Fochsey entertained a species of venera- 
tion for it ; but even she could not help 
admitting, in her own secret consciousness, 
that living on romance and sentiment, and 
whimscal, high-flown words, might be an 
exceedingly fine thing, yet when put to 
the actual proof, it was a still finer thing 
after a hard day's hunting, when you 
came home tired and wet, to find a nice 
warm room, a glowing fire and a recherche 
little repast awaiting you. 

When she stretched herself out full- 
length on a sofa, attired in a captivating 
tea gown, and read one of the fashionable 
Spiritualistic novels on the mysteries of the 
occult world, astral planes, electric forces 
and so on, she never could quite determine 
in her own mind how much or how little 
of an impostor she was. 


For slie did like her comforts — especially 
when she could enjoy them in private. It 
was impossible to deny the fact, and what 
was worse, each year she seemed to like 
them better. But then on the other hand 
how exquisitely divine it must be for your 
amorous soul to have the power of making 
little celestial expeditions quite independent 
of its mundane body, and go flitting and 
flying about in search of the much-wished- 
for and sure-to-exist-somewhere kindred 

There was something ecstatic, captivat- 
ing and ennobling in the very idea. 

And then the delii?ht of the kindred 
spirit! The meeting, the joy, the embrac- 
ing 1 It is to be feared that Lady De Foch- 
sey's little head was often in a muddle. 
She accepted every new theory of the day, 
without understandincf a sinc^le one. 

The conflict going on between her body 
and her soul verged on the pathetic. 


She could not make up her mind whether 
to throw in her lot with things heavenly or 
things earthly. They both had their fas- 
cinations, and the struggle was terrible. 

When she found disappointment in the 
one, she had recourse to the other. But 
durinir the huntinsf season, terrestrial in- 
fluences decidedly preponderated. 

She could not help liking smart habits 
and nice clothes, nor could she refrain 
from a feeling of triumph when she re- 
flected that her waist with a little squeezing 
only measured twenty inches round, and 
that she could tie a tie better than nine 
hunting men out of ten. 

Such facts as these compensated for a 
good many minor disappointments. 

Chief amongst the latter, had been tlie 
want of attention hitherto paid to her by 
Lord Littelbrane. 

As a man, she did not care for him one 
bit, and moreover with that marvellous — 


what may fairly be called husband — instinct 
possessed by the sex, she knew that she 
never should. 

He exhibited none of those points which 
attract a woman. 

He was neither handsome, nor good 
company, nor miserable, nor mysterious, 
nor magnetically sympathetic. He was 
just Lord Littelbrane, with fifteen thou- 
sand a year, and if he had not been Lord 
Littelbrane, everybody would have said 
what a dull, stupid, uninteresting little 
creature he was, and laughed at him for 
giving himself airs. 

Although his lordship invariably bowed 
to Lady De Fochsey, and sometimes even 
went the lenfjth of makin^x a remark about 
the weather, she was distinctly aware, that 
in spite of sundry small overtures on her 
side, she had failed to make any impres- 
sion. Now this knowledge always irritates 
a woman, especially if she be young and 


pretty, and a flirt. The game may not 
repay the trouble, but if she can't play 
it to her mind then she always hankers 
after it. 

This was exactly Lady De Fochsey's 

Besides, she considered it the " proper 
thing " to be hand-in-glove with the master, 
if only because he loas the master. She 
could forgive his showing no civility to 
any other ladies, if he showed it to her. 
But to be treated exactly the same as the 
whole tribe of women who hunted with the 
Morbey Anstead hounds, women who had 
no pretensions to good looks, who had not 
an idea of "getting themselves up," who 
did not wear scarlet jackets and white 
waistcoats, and whose waists were as flat 
as pancakes, was exceedingly mortifying. 
Nay, not only mortifying, but incomprehen- 
sible. It went beyond her experience 
everywhere else. By much flattery and 


insensibility to downright rudeness, she had 
contrived to a certain extent to ingratiate 
herself with the Mutual Adorationites. 
They all condescended to speak to her, but 
the desire of her life was to get up a 
flirtation with Lord Littelbrane, if only for 
the fun of paying him out for having 
resisted her charms so long. For that he 
should have done so was in every way 
unaccountable. She wanted to see him 
incorporated among her " tame cats ; " 
then wouldn't she lead him a pretty dance. 

- i— 1^ -^— i'^:—^ ^^\-r 

VOL. I. 13 



With the instincts of a tliorougli coquette 
Lady De Foclisey slightly slackened lier 
horse's speed, as she overtook Lord Littel- 
brane. If he wished to join her, he should 
have the opportunity. Thus thinking, she 
favoured him to one of her sweetest smiles. 
It was by no means the first time she had 
smiled upon him ; but she told herself that 
random smiles w^ere like air-wafted seeds, 
there was alwa}s a chance of their bring- 
ing forth fruit. 

So she smiled on and on, with all a 
w^oman's perseverance, and with all a 
woman's resolution to turn failure into 
success. This man's impenetrability had 
piqued her, otherwise she would never have 


troubled lier liead about him. He was far 
too stilT and solemn for lier taste. She 
liked people who could tell a good story, 
who could appreciate one when they heard 
it, and who didn't mind calling a spade a 
spade. Now, with his lordship it had to 
be termed a " trowel," or else an " imple- 
ment for dio'f^ins^ the earth." She liked fun 
and gaiety and amusement, whereas all he 
seemed to think about were the " pro- 

And she was sick to death of them ; they 
had been dinned into her ears ever since 
her girlhood, and Sir Jonathan, in his time, 
had frequently waxed eloquent on the 

Lad}^ de Fochsey was a woman to whom 
admiration was as the breath of life. But 
she possessed a certain amount of worldly 
sharpness, and had long since come to the 
conclusion that the best way of attracting 
men was by amusing them ; and if }'0u 


amused them, it did not do to be too 
particular either in your manners or your 
conversation. She had not a very exalted 
idea of the male sex, nevertheless she could 
not do without masculine society, and often 
weakened her own self-respect in tlie 
efforts she made to prove agreeable. She 
could no more help casting an inviting 
glance at Lord Littelbrane than she could 
help being a social butterfly. That glance 
seemed to sa}^ : " Oh ! do come and talk to 
poor little me. For goodness sake, don't 
be so stand-off." 

Had it not been for his lordship's late 
feeling of desolation, he might not have 
construed the look in this manner, but big 
with his resolution of committing matri- 
mony, he was more amenable to feminine 
influences. Therefore he responded to 
Lady De Fochsey's pretty smile, and can- 
tered up to her side. She immediately 
checked the chestnut's speed. 


" Good morning," she exclaimed gaily. 
*'I have not had an opportunity of ex- 
changing a word with you all this long, 
long time. You seemed determined on 
ignoring my existence." 

He reddened. His conscience pricked 
him more than was agreeable. 

" Now that is positively unkind of you 
to say such a thing. Of course one can't 
speak to everybody who comes out 
hunting, but you," rather clumsily, " you 
are different." 

" Ahem ! that's a mercy : it's gratifying 
to my feelings to find I am not included in 
the list of people with whom your lordship 
cannot condescend to hold converse in the 
hunting field." 

The satire was lost upon him ; he only 
thought her words showed a very proper 
sense of his position and of the responsi- 
bilities entailed by it. 

" Oh ! Ah ! You see there are so many 


queer folks come out with these hounds 
that one is bound to draw the Hne some- 

"Of course," she answered with fine 
irony, " still it is pleasing to find you do 
not draw it at me, as I began to suspect. 
One has feelings, you know," shooting a 
lana'uishino' Hance at him, " even although 

coo ' tJ 

one is only a woman." 

" I have feelings too," he said solemnly, 
lookino^ as c^rave as an undertaker. 

O D 

"I'm delighted to hear it, my lord. 
Upon my word, there have been times when 
I doubted their existence : I should think 
they were very uncomfortable ones, judg- 
ing from your manner." 

" They are rather," he admitted, re- 
lapsing into silence. He did not wish to 
do anything precipitate, and he thought he 
had iione far enough on that tack for the 

c o 

present. There were just one or two little 
points which he w^anted to ascertain before 


committing liimself. Was slie a flirt, was 
she the least bit " loud," and was that 
pretty waist of hers produced by tight- 
lacing, or merely the result of natural 
slimness ? He set his face against women 
compressing this particular portion of their 
body unduly. It was detrimental to the 
future race. When he married, he intended 
to marry with one given object in view. On 
that point he w^as quite determined. 
Nothino^ else could have induced him to 
sacrifice his bachelor independence. At 
forty-six men are apt to regard matrimony 
as a dubious pleasure ; they have become 
too selfish and too confirmed in their own 

But in spite of her companion's tacitur- 
nity, Lady De Fochsey had no intention of 
allowing their interview thus soon to come 
to an end. So uood a chance of insertinor 
the thin edge of the w^edge might not occur 
again for a long time. If he would not 


talk on one subject she would try another, 
a very harmless and innocent one, that 
could not possibly frighten him. Perhaps 
she had been a little — just a little — too 
sarcastic, only she did so long to give him 
a good shake, and put some life and 
naughtiness into him. He was so fright- 
fully slow and heavy, and yet did not seem 
to have the least idea of the fact. 

" Dear me ! " she exclaimed, reinimi in 
her horse, with a gesture of feminine ex- 
haustion. "What a terribly long jogl 
How much further is it to the covert ? " 

She thought it well to ascertain what 
time was likely to be accorded her, so as to 
make a satisfactory disposition of her 

" Only about a quarter of a mile," he 
answered, taking stock of the width of her 
chest and the symmetry of her limbs. A 
narrow-chested woman would not have met 
with his approbation. 


" What a comfort ! That's the most 
cheering piece of news I've heard for a 
long time." 

" Are you tired, Lad}^ De Fochsey ? " 

" Dreadfully so ; Burnett has been going 
at such a tremendous pace ; I can*t think 
what has made him in so great a hurry. 
Poor Little Mayfly," bending forward 
and patting her horse's neck, " is quite 

"And her mistress? " 

"Her mistress is hot too." 

" Why don't you walk a litlle, and take 
a rest ? " he su2!"2:ested. 


'' I can't, I should be left alone, all by 
myself, miles away from everybody." 
" Not if you will let me stay with you." 
She turned her blue eyes full upon him. 
She had never noticed before how weak 
and watery his colourless ones were, but 
she softened her voice, and said caress- 
ingly : 


'^ Tore ! oil ! Lord Littelbrane ; you 
can't be in earnest, surely ? " 

" Yes/' he rejoined, growing bolder. 
" Why not me as well as another ? " and 
the warm blood rushed up into his faded 
face, giving it quite an animated ex- 

Again she smiled ; this time with con- 
scious triumph. Her theory of the seedling 
had proved correct. A clever woman has 
only to bide her time, and there are very 
few men who will escape her. If she has 
good looks as well, then she can count 
almost surely on the result. 

" You — you are very kind," she said, 

" I think you mioht trust me a little 
bit," he said, dropping his voice. 

But this was too much for her ladyship's 
sense of the ridiculous. She lauHied out 

" I liave trusted you, Lord Littelbrane, I 


have trusted you for tlie last three years, 
and hunted regularly with these hounds. 
Only " checking herself abruptly. 

" Go on," he said impatiently. " Only 
what ? " 

" Must I tell you ? " 

" Yes." 

" Then," raising her limpid blue eyes 
reproachfull}^ to his, '■ j^ou have never 
displayed the slightest wish for me to place 
faith in you until to-day. I have trusted 
you enormously, but always — from a 

He felt flattered. He was not sharp- 
witted enouo'h to detect the fine stinc^ of 
irony present in even her prettiest speeches ; 
at all events he chose only to extract the 

" Lady De Fochsey," he said, with con- 
siderable agitation, " will you promise me 
something ? " 

" What is it, my lord ? A wise woman 


never makes rash promises. She listens 
first, and promises afterwards." 

" Promise that you will trust me from a 
distance no longer." 

She hesitated for a moment — just a 
pretty little feminine hesitation, calculated 
to make him more eager. Then, with 
another swift upward look of the blue eyes, 
she said demurely : 

"It is for you, not me, to decide the 
distance. You can hardly expect me to 
make the first advances. Eemember, that 
for these three long years I have always 
been under the impression you did not 
like me." 

Never had Lady De Fochsey appeared 
to greater advantage than when she uttered 
these words. 

The air and exercise had brought a 
rosy flush to her cheeks. Her eyes 
sparkled with fun, -triumph, and ex- 
citement, and her neat, upright figure. 


with its perfectly fitting scarlet coat, 
swayed voluptuously to and frOj yielding 
to every movement of lier horse. What 
matter that the captivating golden fringe, 
which peeped from beneath her hat, was 
false ; or that she was suffering agonies 
from the pretty little patent leather boot 
displayed with such extreme liberality ? 
The soul knoweth its own bitterness, and 
Lord Littelbrane knew nothing of these 
things. He saw her only as she appeared 
to the outside world, not as she was and 
felt to herself. 

" Me ! Dislike you f' he stammered, 
beginning to wonder at his own indiffer- 
ence. '' How could you have entertained 
so preposterous an idea ? " 

" I did not know — I — I thought you 
tried to avoid me." 

" Pure imagination, my dear lady. The 
fact of the matter is, that in my position 
as master of hounds, it does not do for me 


to display any active preferences out 

" You have certainly succeeded in con- 
cealing them admirably," she interrupted, 
her love of fun j^^ettiiii:? the better of her 
prudence. "No one could possibly have 
suspected that you entertained any. In 
fact your avoidance of womankind was 
almost marked," 

" 1 don't profess to be what is called a 
lady's man," he said, not without a touch 
of pride. 

"And I am sure that nobody would 
accuse vou of beinir one " she retorted in 
her most agacante manner. 

" But," he went on, blushing up to the 
very roots of his hair, " I have always 
admired you. Always," emphatically. 
" From the very first." 

She burst into a peal of silvery laughter. 

" Oh ! mv lord, vou do me too much 
honour. 1 am charmed to hear it/' And 


throuo-Ia lier vain little frame shot a thrill 


of triumph. 

" Ton my soul, it's the truth. You're 
an awfully nice woman." 

" In that case, you must be a very stupid 
man not to have found it out sooner." 

" By Jingo ! I believe you are right. 
You think I have been remiss in my atten- 
tions, do 3^ou ? " 

" I did not say so, my lord." 

" No, but your words implied it. Come, 
tell me. Have I not guessed pretty near 
the mark? " And he sidled up an inch or 
two nearer to her. It pleased his vanity to 
think that she had been hankerini]^ after 
him and felt hurt by his non-sociability. 

" I will not make any damaging admis- 
sions," she responded, " though perhaps," 
sighing sentimentally, " it may have 
occurred to me now and again, that you 
considered women out of place in the 
huntini? field." 


" I swear that I never tliouglit any such 
thing. Why! Lady De Fochsey, I have 
always looked upon you as one of the chief 
ornaments of my hunt." 

She could not suppress her mirth. It 
was so irresistibly funny after three whole 
years to find him wake up all of a sudden, 
for no apparent rhyme or reason, and begin 
paying her a series of grave and elaborate 
compliments. She hardly knew whether 
he was in earnest or not. 

But anyway, she had not the least 
intention of letting him see how elated she 
felt. She was far too well versed in the 
ways of the world to jump down a man's 
throat who had committed the heinous 
offence of taking such an unconscionable 
time in discoverinix her attractions. True, 
it was better than not fmding them out at 
all, but he must be made to feel his own 
stupidity — the pleasures he had missed. 

" You will turn my head by so much 


adulation," she said demurely. " May I 
venture to ask when you first made the 
discovery of my being an ornament to 
your hunt ? It must have been extremely 

Her mocking, airy tone disconcerted, 
whilst it provoked him. He hated " chaff." 
And across his mind dimly crept tlie idea 
that she was " chaffin^y " liim. 

" I have stated a fact," he said reprov- 
ingly, " and you seem to doubt my word, 
I don't like sceptical people." 

" Quite right," said her ladyship quiz- 
zingly. " They are apt to be bores at 
times. Nevertheless, I do not think you 
need feel surprised at my being a little 
slow of belief. It has only just dawned 
upon me, that I am an ornament, at all 
events in your eyes." 

'*I suppose you thought me blind, 
then ? " he said somewhat huffily. 

" I am not quite sure. I believe I con- 

VOL. I. 14 


sidered you blind, after the manner of those 
who won't see. People say that is the 
worst form of any." 

" Well, my eyes are opened at last, at 
any rate, and I apologise for all my short- 

*' Don't," she said jestingly. " It would 
take you such a long time. Besides," 
shrugging her shoulders with a coquettish 
gesture, " it really would be too absurd to 
apologise to me, because it has never 
entered your head to see anything to 
admire in me, until to-day." 

Her persistent levity had the effect of 
making him more earnest. 

"It by no means follows that a man does 
not admire a woman because he has not 
the impudence to tell her so to her face," 
he said, with some heat. 

" Don't you think women very easily 
forgive that sort of impudence ? " she 
asked innocently. 


" I hardly know." 

" Do 3^011 suppose / would not have 
forgiven you, Lord Littelbrane." And 
the arrant little flirt looked wickedly- 
round at him with her babyish turquoise 

" Well — perhaps you might," he an- 
swered, beginning to feel his head swim, 
and his heart beat with a stran!2^e and 
unaccustomed sensation. 

" Then why didn't you tell me ? " 

This was a regular " poser," and he took 
some time before making any answer. At 
length he said, with a return to his serious 
manner : 

" I could tell you a good many things if 
I chose." And he stared straic^ht out over 
his horse's ears, as if afraid to encounter 
another glance so full of temptation as the 

" Do," she said persuasively. " I'm all 




He looked undecidedly at lier for a second, 
then turned his head away. 

" Perhaps I may some day," he responded 
with growing solemnity, for the immense 
gravity of the step he had in contempla- 
tion weighed upon his spirit like a ton of 

If he married, it was from a sense of 

duty alone, not to gratify his personal 

inclinations. He was bound to commit 

matrimony sooner or later, and the lady of 

his choice was equally bound to be young, 

healthy and well-bred, in order to bring 

into the world a desirable number of little 

Littelbranes. Selection was a thing he 

had not studied very deeply, but he opined 

that it should certainlv be exercised 

amongst people in exalted spheres. His 

own, he considered a very exalted sphere; 

and therefore the mother of the future 

heir of Littelbrane Castle was a being not 

to be chosen from the low standard of 

LOVE BY SELECT10>', 213 

human passion, but from the far nobler 
and loftier one of the influences she was 
likely to bring to bear upon posterity. 

Keeping this laudable object steadily in 
view, Lord Littelbrane had slowly come to 
the conclusion that amongst all the ladies 
of his acquaintance, Lady De Fochsey best 
fulfilled the necessary conditions. 

Eight-and- twenty was an excellent age. 
Neither too young nor yet too old. The 
only thing that distressed him, was that 
she had had no family by her first husband. 
But then her married life had been short, 
and Sir Jonathan very ailing and infirm. 

Such were his reflections, as, fatigued by 
the magnitude of the conversational effort 
already made, he once more relapsed into 
silence. But he little knew the daring 
aggressive nature of the woman with wdioni 
he had to deal. Lady De Fochsey had 
long since recognized him as one of those 
men who must be " talked to." She found 


it up-liill work, but much practice had 
rendered her equal to the occasion. 

" A penny for your thoughts ! " she 
exclaimed, after a prolonged pause, during 
which she had been stealthily studying her 
companion's face, and thinking how terribly 
vapid and dull its owner was. He started 
and turned red at being thus attacked. 

" At that particular moment I was won- 
dering whether you ever felt lonely," he 
said simply. 

She forgave him his stupidity, since she 
had been occupying his brain. 

" Sometimes," she said, putting on a 
pensive air. " But why do you ask. Do 
you ? " 

" Frightfully, since poor dear Harry 
died. I don't know that I can i^o on liviuir 
by myself much longer. I begin to want a 
companion very badly indeed." 

Lady De Fochsey was an audacious little 
person, and had the gift of saying the 


boldest tliinofs in the most innocent and 
artless of manners. 

" If that is so. Lord Littelbrane, why on 
earth do you not get married ? Everybody 
says that you ought to." 

" Do they ? " he inquired, flushing 

" Yes, everybody. Is there no one 
you like well enough to make your 
wife ? " 

" Yes," he said slowly. " I— I— think- 
there — is." 

" Ah ! I thought so. And pray, who 
may the lucky lady be ? " 

Something in the expression of his coun- 
tenance made her heart palpitate. A 
strange thought flashed through her mind. 
A thought full of gratified vanity, but 
without one particle of sentiment in its 

He turned quite pale, opened his lips as 
if to say something, when alas ! alas ! a 


loud tallv-ho came rinL^inj]^ t]irou<^h the 

In another moment they were engulfed 
by a galloping crowd, and borne far apart. 

" Was there ever anything so pro- 
voking ? " said Lady De Fochsey to herself. 
" I do believe he meant to propose. And 
oh, what fun it would have been, and what 
a feather in my cap ! " 

As for Lord Littelbrane, the perspiration 
had gathered in great beads upon his noble 
brow. He wiped it hastily away, and 
uttered a sis^li which seemed torn from the 
very depths of his being. 

" By Jove ! " he muttered, " making love 
is awful work, worse even than I thought. 
It would have been all over with me in 
another minute. I was going ahead so 
deuced fast." Then he shook liis head, 
and murmured disapprovingly : " Too fast 
— too fast by a great deal. It's just as 
well that fox went away when he did. 


Ko"w I can take another week or two to 
make up my mind, and think the matter 


He had no doubts about Lady De 
Fochsey. It never occurred to him to 
imagine that if he condescended to ask, she 
■was not prepared to accept with pleasure. 


HE won't face WATEl^ 

Although it was now nearly three o'clock, 
and sportsmen had already indulged in one 
good gallop, it had by no means abated 
their keenness. After the lonn- summer's 
inactivity, they were full of ardour, which 
even the blindness of the country could not 
keep in check. 

They were just as eager to pursue this 
second fox as they had been to follow the 
first, and he took them alon^ at a verv fair 
pace ; though after the first ten minutes 
were over he showed himself in his true 
colours, and turned out a faint-hearted, 
twisty brute. This fact, however, did not 
in the least detract from Bob's pleasure. 


He was far too mucli of a novice at the 
game to care whether hounds ran straight, 
or round and round in a rino^. It was all 
the same to him, as long as they kept 
moving on, and he could get plenty of 
jumping. The jumping, indeed, constituted 
his chief delis^ht. He thou^jht far more of 
it than of fox and hounds. They were 
quite subordinate considerations, as com- 
pared with the glorious and intoxicating 
sensation of feeling yourself up in the air 
and never knowing in exactly what fashion 
you would descend to the earth. There 
was an element of damper in the whole 
business which gave it a special charm. 
One moment your heart was in your 
mouth ; the next, words failed to express 
the sudden elation which took possession 
of every faculty, and made the pulses thrill 
with ecstasy. But The Swell and his rider 
were no longer so exactly of the same 
mind as they had been earlier in the day. 


That fastidious animal began to consider 
that his powers had been quite sufficiently 
exerted. He was too wise and old a hunter 
to love jumping for jumping's sake. He 
looked upon every unnecessary leap as an 
indignity to his understanding, and grew 
more and more sulky in consequence. 

His late master had almost invariably 
ridden him first horse, and sent him home 
early. The cunning creature could not see 
the fun of being kept out so long, and 
hankered after his comforting warm mash 
and good old oats. His buoyancy and 
spirits departed. It was almost with a 
feeling of resentment that he turned 
his head away from home, and for the 
second time joined in the chase. His ill- 
humour soon became evident. He no 
longer fenced as faultlessly as in the 
morning. One or two places he negotiated 
quite slovenly, crashing right in amongst 
the thorns and binders with his hind-legs. 


So badly indeed did lie beliave, that Bob, 
as he sailed down at a big hedge, newly 
plashed, with a very blind ditch on the near 
side, into which all the lopped-off twigs had 
been cast, deemed it advisable to rouse him 
up a little bit. The Swell resented the 
process and the manner in which it was 
done. He missed those subtle touches of 
hand and heel to which he was accustomed. 
His mouth was fine and very sensitive. 

Bob gave it a job, and the horse im- 
mediately tossed up his head, with the 
result that he almost put both fore-feet into 
the ditch, and only succeeded in getting 
over with a desperate Hounder, which 
landed him on his knees. 

Crack, crack, rang an awful report in 
Bob's ears as he was jerked violentl}^" 
forwards, and then nearly as violently 
back, whilst The Swell righted himself, 
grunting with terror and indignation. His 
unhappy rider knew what had happened. 


He needed not to be told. The disaster 
wliicli lie feared, with almost morbid fear, 
had taken place at last. He glanced 
hurriedly at his nether limbs. 

Yes, there they were ! Those two 
abominable elastic straps, dangling down 
about a quarter of a yard in length, from 
the hem of his trousers. One of them liad 
even a little square bit of cloth still 
sticking to it, which proved that the wrench 
must have been considerable. An unutter- 
able horror seized him. A kind of sinkinix 
shame. And yet he did not realize the full 
extent of his misfortunes until he had 
galloped half-way across a fifty-acre field. 

Then he began to feel odious and horrible 
sensations of discomfort. Thev seemed to 
come creeping slowly, slowly upward and 
to run all along his spine. '\\'arm as he 
was, a shudder passed through his frame. 
He tried not to look downwnrds, but a 
species of fascination forced him to do so. 


Unliappy young man ! The man who 
had fancied himself superior to clothes, and 
who affected to despise boots and breeches. 
What did he see, you ask ? 

He saw two inches of white leg — dis- 
gustingly white, that made the matter so 
much worse — fully exposed to public 
vision ; whilst his stockinofs had wrio^o^led 
themselves into the heels of his boots, and 
his trousers were up to his knees. Pitiable 
spectacle ! With the agony of desperation, 
he tried to pull the one up and the other 
down. It afforded only temporary relief. 
The wretched things would not stop in their 
place. And all this time hounds were 
running well, even if not at a furious pace. 
Had there been a gate close by he would 
have hailed it with joy, and hidden his 
diminished head amoni^st the roadsters. 
But there was none. For once Stiff- 
shire failed to supply the desired com- 
modity. He must go on riding, and he 


must go on jumping, whether he liked it 
or not. 

Overwhelmed with confusion, all of a 
sudden he heard a loud guffaw. Turning 
sharply round in the saddle, he perceived, 
carefully crawling through a handy gap, no 
less a person than his old antagonist, 
General Prosieboy. That man seemed to 
have a knack of turning up on every 
occasion, just when he was least wanted. 
At the present moment he was evidently 
gloating over Bob's discomfiture. His fat 
old sides literally shook with laughter, 
whilst his face assumed a deeper and more 
purple hue than its wont. Perhaps Bob 
was unreasonable ; but the sight of the 
old gentleman simply maddened him. It 
seemed to set every nerve quivering and 
throbbing, and added a thousand times to 
his distress. He would have given a 
hundred pounds at that moment to have 
been able to punch General Prosieboy 's 


head. There was a murderous instinct 
within him, which, if not quelled, might 
lead to terrible results. 

Clapping spurs into The Swell he fled 
precipitately, as the only way of escaping 
from his tormentor. 

But whither ? 

He did not think — he did not care, so 
long as he was somewhere near the hounds, 
and away from the rest of the field. 

For five whole minutes he rode like a 
madman ; cramming his horse at all sorts 
of break-neck places, now crashing into a 
bull-finch, anon scrambling over fences, 
again smashing recklessly through timber. 
The Swell had never been so utterly amazed 
and disf^usted in the whole course of his 


career. His legs were a pincushion. They 
were stuck full of thorns, his sides were 
dark with crimson gore, and a long red 
scratch disfigured the stifle of his near hind 
leg. To look at him, he might have been 
VOL. I. 15 


a miserable hireling:, whose rider was bent 
on having his two guineas' worth to the 
very last farthing. 

Presently Bob grew calmer. For a 
hasty backward glance had shown him 
that not a soul was followini]^ in his foot- 
steps. All he wanted was to get away 
from the crowd, and to escape their gibes 
and jeers. 

But before long, his thoughts took a 
different turn. He began to imagine that 
he was entirely alone with hounds. It 
never struck him to look to the rig^ht or to 
the left. His eyes were fixed on the light 
vanishing; sterns ahead. Even the recollec- 
tion of those two white legs faded from his 
mind, erased by the imaginary glories of his 
position. Neither was excitement wanting. 
For none can be greater than that of riding 
a well-nigh beaten horse at a succession of 
big fences, and counting surely on a fall at 
each one. A man's courage is severely 


tested then — more perhaps than at any- 
other time. 

With all his good qualities, The Swell 
was not a bond fide stayer. 

He could live through a really fast run, 
first thing in the morning when he came 
out fresh and well, but although it might 
take some time to discover the fact, he was 
a cur at heart. For if he once got ever so 
little pumped, he never came again that 

The morning gallop had stretched his 
girths quite as much as he deemed fit. 
After five and thirty to forty minutes, a 
twenty-pound screw would have carried a 
man almost as well to hounds for the 
remainder of the afternoon. 

Besides which natural idiosyncrasies, he 
had not been out hunting this season and 
was a little short of condition, like most 
gentlemen's horses early in November. 
Bob, however, was not sufficiently ex- 



perienced to take tliese things into consider- 
ation. He had a good deal to learn yet, 
before becoming a finished cross-country 
performer. The number of jumps you have 
jumped, does not constitute the sole glory 
of fox-hunting, as before long he was 
destined to discover. Wise is he, who, 
nursing his horse, looks upon leaping 
simply as a means to an end. 

All of a sudden, straight in front of him, 
Bob saw the gleam of water peeping coldly 
out from amongst a fringe of low, stunted 
willows. As he did so, Matthews' words 
recurred to him : " He has but one fault, 
sir. He won't face water." 

But he — Bob — was in that state of sur- 
excitation, when he flattered himself that a 
really resolute person on The Swell's back was 
bound to make all the dilTerence. Because 
a horse refused to look at a brook with one 
man, he might be persuaded or forced to 
have it with another. Anyhow, he would 

5 i 


not show the white feather, even although 
he believed there was no one to see what 
he was about. But his own self-respect 
shrank from the idea of " funking 
Physical cowardice inspired him with a 
supreme contempt. As for the hounds — 
well, he forgot to notice whether they had 
actually crossed the brook or not. He 
thought they were going to, and that was 
enough. He never observed how old True- 
tongue paused on the very brink, and then 
feathered along the side. Instead of closely 
watching her movements, he caught his 
horse by the head, and drove him at the 
water, just as hard as ever he could. 

To his surprise, he found on approaching 
the brook, that it was bigger than he 
suspected. Should that alter his determina- 
tion ? Certainly not. 

He raised his whip hand. The Swell 
fswerved away from it ; and then — oh, 
horror I he felt him begin to collapse under 

230 A CEACK COU>'Ty. 

liim. He dug the spurs into the poor 
beast's sides and kept him as straight as he 
could. He held him in such an iron grasp 
that he thought the horse was bound to 
make a bid for it. Xot he ! 

In the very last stride, The Swell stopped 
dead short, stretched out his neck, lowered 
his head and Grazed in mute obstinacy at the 
dark depths beneath him. He knew what 
they felt like. He had tried them once, 
lonsf ajT^o in his early youth, and had made 
a mental resolve never, by any chance, to 
renew their acquaintance. Some might 
like cold water. He did not approve of it. 
The dry system appeared to him to possess 
insuperable advantages. And Bob ? the 
rash youth who thoug^ht his will was 
stronger than that of the animal he 
bestrode, and who did not know that a 
horse, when he is in earnest, can defy any 
man ever born ! Well, Bob simply flew 
over his head, like an arrow shot from a 


bow, and descended plump into the midst 
of the stream. It was awfully deep ! He 
went right down to the bottom, rolled about 
in the soft mud, and imbibed more water 
than he had ever done before or hoped to 
do again. Gasping and spluttering, he 
rose to the surface, making frantic endea- 
vours to regain his footing. Eoars of 
laughter greeted his reappearance — real, 
unfeigned, hearty laughter. 

It seemed to him, in that never-to-be- 
forgotten moment, which crowned all his 
previous mishaps, as if the whole of the 
Morbey Anstead Field were congregated 
on the banks of this fatal brook, and were 
unanimous in regarding his involuntary 
immersion as a most excellent joke. If he 
could have felt any sensations of heat, he 
would have grown hot with indignation. 
Even The Swell turned his full blue eye 
upon him with an air of amiable triumph, 
which seemed to say : " Ah ! you would 


have done much better to have taken my 

It was a terrible thinf]^, having? to scramble 
out on to terra Jirma before all those 
laughing faces. Nobody appeared to 
possess the least instinct of pit}'. Even 
Lady De Fochsey, his quondam ally, was 
smiling broadly and was evidently greatly 

Poor Bob stood and shook himself like a 
Newfoundland dog. The water poured 
from his ears and saturated clothes. The 
glory of the day had departed. The 
sky had clouded over, a cold wind arose 
which whistled across the uplands. lie 
felt chilled to the bone. And then, all at 
once, a grufT voice from amongst the 
crowd said : 

" I say, young fellow, how are the legs ? 
They look whiter than ever after getting 
such a real good washing. It will save 
your soap, anyway." 


This sally was received witli much 
tittering and applause. 

Bob could have sworn the voice belonged 
to General Prosieboy, but he failed to 
perceive that gentleman's whereabouts. 
Perhaps it was lucky for his grey hairs. 
It is the last straw which breaks the 
camel's back. 

Bob had endured a good deal, on this 
memorable day, from the hands of the 
Mutual Adorationites ! He now felt as if 
he could endure no more. His wet clothes 
clung heavily about him and weighed like 
a ton. Without saying a word he 
clambered laboriously up into the saddle, 
and rode straight off in the direction of 
home. Any temporary feeling of elation 
had been destroyed by his cold bath. A 
more crestfallen, dejected and miserable 
young man, it would have been impossible 
to find in all Her Majesty's possessions. 
Just when he was particularly anxious to 


make a favourable dehut in the hunting 
field, he had contrived to tumble off and 
provide amusement for every one present. 
The tears almost started to his eyes. He 
felt so bitterly humiliated. Swearing was 
not a habit he greatly approved of, but 
oh ! how he swore at those " confounded " 
straps, which, rightly or wrongly, he 
looked upon as the chief cause of his 



As soon as lie succeeded in reaching^ the 
first road, Bob set off at a swinging trot. 
His teeth were chattering, and his limbs 
frozen. To make matters worse the wind 
increased, till it seemed to blow through 
his clothes as if they were paper, and 
chilled the very marrow in his bones. 
Under these circumstances, it was perhaps 
excusable that he displayed but little regard 
for The Swell's fore-legs, and went pounding 
along at a tremendous pace. After he had 
gone about a couple of miles, he saw a poor 
old labourer encrafred in the tedious task 
of breaking stones by the road-side. 

Then for the first time it occurred to 
him, that for aught he knew, he might be 


going Tvrong, since he was by no means 
sure of the way. Therefore, checking his 
tired horse, he asked : " Is this right for 
Straighten! Court, my man ? " 

"Yes, sir, quite right, sir," came the 
reply. " Keep straight on till you pass 
Killerton village, then turn sharp to the 
right, through a bridle-gate, that takes you 
across the fields almost into Straight em. 
It'ull save you a couple of miles if not 

" But how am I to find the bridle-gate ?" 
inquired Bob, intent on making sure of 
his directions. 

"You can't possibly mistake it, sir, 
because there's a sign-post within five 

Moved to compassion by the feeble old 
man's shrunken frame, hollow cheeks and 
half-starved appearance. Bob fumbled in 
his waistcoat pocket until he found a 


" Thank you," he said kindly. " Tliere 
— take this. I have no doubt that it will 
do you a great deal more good than it will 

The recipient's blessings followed him as 
he rode away, and for a few minutes he 
reflected gravely on the miserable condition 
of an honest man like the one he had just 
left, when age and infirmity combined to 
render the struggle against poverty more 
and more difficult. What could life mean 
to him ? Only a weary, weary warring 
against cold and wind and rain ; against 
hunger and fatigue ; without amusement, 
without pleasure ; without comfort of any 
sort. A dreary existence at best, but 
rendered a thousand times more so by 
failing health, and the pains of a poor, 
worn-out old body. The body ! Ah ! 
what a drag and torment it was to human 
beings ! If only they could rise above it ! 
And yet even a simple toothache could 


dethrone the greatest genius from its seat. 
Brain, psychic force : of what did they 
avail, when Pain could lay them in the 
dust so easily and ride triumphant over 
them ? Their very defeat only served to 
prove the weakness and mortality of man. 

But Bob's meditations were cut short by 
a fresh calamity. The road had been 
newly mended and was covered with 
stones. The Swell toed them with the 
carelessness of a weary animal. Suddenly 
he trod on a loose flint, and immediately 
afterwards went dead lame. So lame 
indeed that trottinijf was out of the 
question. It was as much as he could do 
to walk. 

Bob's star was clearly not in the 
ascendant to-day. He thought that he 
had already reached the limits of his ill- 
luck. He found there was still a mar^^in 
which had not entered into his calculations. 
Tbe Swell's ?-:mall ears now bobbed up and 


down with torturing irregularity. They 
made him feel like a monster of cruelty. 

Dismounting, he proceeded to examine 
the poor beast's foot, but could perceive 
nothing? to account for his sudden lameness. 
In truth, it would have taken a pretty 
powerful magnifying glass to have detected 
that small, sharp piece of granite, which 
having penetrated the frog, was causing 
such exquisite agony. 

Beino* now forced to travel at a foot's 
pace, Bob considered it was warmer 
walking than riding, besides he could not 
help being sorry for the unhappy animal, 
whose appearance had undergone such a 
total transformation since he sallied forth 
in the morning, champing at his bit, 
arching his glossy neck and playfully 
whisking his tail. There was not a 
symptom of light-heartedness left now. 
' The unfortunate Swell no longer merited 
he name. Anything less like an equine 


dandy could not have ?jeen imagined. His 
sleek bay coat Tvas hard and white with 
dry perspiration, his sides were disfigured 
by spur marks, his legs incrusted with mud ; 
whilst his eye wore a dull, glazy look, 
which told of physical discomfort. If to 
him had been given the gift of speech, he 
would probably have said : " My master 
may be ' plucky,' but never let me see him 
again — never let me have anything more to 
do with him. He has ridden my tail off." 

Bob trudged sturdily on, till at length 
he reached Killerton villaf]fe, and the bridle- 
gate beyond. Then, when once more a 
vista of green fields refreshed his eyes, he 
remounted, thinking that the probabilities 
were The Swell would go less tender on the 
soft, springy grass. 

In this supposition he was correct, never- 
theless it was a weary ride home, cold and 
slow and miserable. The sort of ride which 
eflectually obliterates any pleasant impres- 


sions left by the day's sport, and which 
makes a man besfin to ask himself whether 
fox-hunting repays the many disappoint- 
ments and discomforts that must necessarily 
come in its train. 

It was a bad thing for Bob, on his very 
first acquaintance with the noble pastime, 
to have arrived at such a stage, but, as 
before stated, physical misery soon makes 
a diflerent creature of man, and quickly 
subdues him. 

Our hero followed the track as well as 
he could, and his spirits slightly revived. 
But after a time, the path disappeared, 
swallowed up in a sea of grass, and then he 
had to trust entirely to his bump of locality 
— a bump which he did not possess in as 
laro^e a de^^ree as mi^fht have been ex- 

Besides, it is by no means an easy thing 
to thread one's way through a series of 
narrow gates, in an entirely new country. 
VOL. 1. 17 


These huge uninhabited pastures, for which 
StilTshire is celebrated all over the huntinc^ 
world, and which constitute its glory and 
its renown, are desolate in the extreme. 
You may go for miles and miles without 
meeting anything but herds of grazing 
cattle, woolly sheep, and an occasional 
rough young colt. The cloud-shadows 
race across these vast stretches of undu- 
lating verdure, and the wind sweeps over 
them at its icy will. There are scarcely 
any trees to break its hirj. Only a few 
isolated specimens in the hedgerows, which 
rear their gaunt, stunted arms to the dull 
sky, as if imploring that their lives may be 
i^ranted them. Here and there a cjreat 
black bullfinch, situated on the summit of 
some rising hill, lies like a long dark wall 
against the grey horizon. A magpie flits 
across the path. Intersected lines of fences 
break up the green, rendering it yet more 
vivid — and this is StifTshire. Lonelv, silent, 


sullen, undecked by the beauties of Nature, 
3^et witlial not destitute of a certain 
grandeur, born of lier vastness and her 
desolation. A solitary country, that after 
a time possesses a kind of weird charm for 
the solitary soul that walks the earth alone. 
Bob looked about him. Far as eye could 
reach, not a human habitation was within 
vision. He began to experience fresh mis- 
givings as to the route. Sometimes the 
fields were so large that they had two or 
three gates, and then he was just obliged 
to guess at the most likely one. But he 
might have gone wrong a dozen times over, 
and as the afternoon advanced, would have 
been many degrees easier in his mind, could 
he but have reached a road. Many and 
many a time did he regret having left one. 
He would not have grudged the greater 
distance, for the sense of extra security 
conferred. Already it seemed to him as if 
he had been hours on his way. 


All of a sudden, just when lie was set- 
tling down into a state of melancholy resig- 
nation, he perceived a brand new gate, 
painted white, about fifty yards ahead. 
And through the bars of this gate, he saw 
the moist road glimmering, as the young 
crescent moon, high up aloft, reflected her 
pallid face in a little pool of water. Joy- 
fully he hastened his steps, whilst even The 
Swell pricked his ears, and seemed to know 
he was nearini^ home. 

Bob stretched out his arm, and tried to 
lift up the latch with the crook of his 
hunting crop. It was secured by some 
new-fangled process which he did not 
understand, and yielded not an inch. He 
made another essav witli the same result, 
another and yet another. Then The Swell 
grew impatient, and pushed heavily against 
the barrier witli his stroma chest. Findini]f 
it still closed, he lurched awav from it in 
distrust, as much as to sav, " It is for vou 


to open this, not me. I've done my best, 
now you do yours." 

Bob did all lie could to coax him up to 
the gate again. He tried patting, he tried 
speaking, he tried spurring. But the horse 
refused with all the obstinacy of which 
brute nature is capable. In little, as in 
big things, The Swell would try once, but 
never more often. He was like some men 
and many women — easily disheartened by 
failure, and let failure conquer liim^ instead 
of he conquering failure. 

This delay proved most vexatious. For 
when you have been immersed in a brook, 
on a cold November afternoon, every 
minute appears of consequence. Your 
whole soul hankers after warmth, and a 
dry change of clothes. There was nothing 
for it, however, but to get off. Bob 
did so, and throwing the reins over his 
bridle arm, proceeded to ascertain why 
this particular gate was unlike all other 


gates, and refused to allow itself to be 

But heaving, pushing, lifting — all proved 
useless. At the end of five minutes he was 
in despair. Finally he put his shoulder to 
the refractory bars, and tried to break 
them down by main force. He was a 
strcng, athletic young fellow, six feet in 
height, and broad of chest, with muscles 
developed by the healthy open-air life he 
had led. But he was just as powerless 
af]^ainst those stronc^ white timbers as a 
child of six. He could not even bend 
them, although he put forth all his 
streni^th, and his face turned scarlet with 

A heavy sigh escaped from him. It 
acknowledged his defeat. Totally discon- 
certed, he told himself that he must retrace 
his footsteps and seek some fresh means of 
enter] nu^ the road. He clanced at the 
fence which ran on either side of the gate. 


But it was perfectly unjumpable, and even 
had it been otherwise, he doubted very 
much whether The Swell, in his present 
state, could have made an effort. He was 
at his wit's end. And then, all at once 
hope surged up into his heart. 

He heard a noise, the clatter of hoofs 
approaching on the hard macadam. Thank 
goodness ! help was at hand. The people 
of the country would surely understand 
how these mysterious gates opened. And 
even if the worst came to the worst, with 
the aid of another good, strong man, he 
felt confident that he could break the 
wretched thing down. It would be easy 
to pay for the damages afterwards, but 
home, sweet home, was the chief considera- 
tion just at present. 

Bob's disappointment was therefore ex- 
treme, when a sharp turn in the road 
revealed a young lad}-, riding a smart dun 
cob, about fourteen hands high. 


Their eyes met, and she seemed imme- 
diately to guess the cause of his distress. 
She blushed a little, hesitated for a 
moment, and then pulled the dun up to a 

" I see you are in difficulties," she said, 
in a voice whose frank, straightforward 
tones impressed him favourably. " Will 
you allow me to help you P " 

In his amazement at this slim, slip of a 
girl imagining that she could open a gate 
which had defied all his own energies. Bob 
did a very rude thing. 

He made no answer, but simply stood 
still, and stared at the fair Samaritan who 
thus kindly volunteered to assist him. 




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